VAN BUREN (KFSM) -- There are more than 30,000 teachers in the state of Arkansas, but only one can be named the 2017 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
Courtney Cochran, a Spanish teacher at Van Buren High School, has been given the honor.
The school surprised her with the award in what she thought was just a routine assembly. It quickly turned into an unforgettable moment in her 11 years of teaching.
"I did not see this coming," Cochran said.
Cochran was named one of four state semi-finalist for the award in September. State education leaders ultimately selected Cochran after interviewing and observing her in the classroom.
"When a school has a teacher that has been recognized as the teacher of the year, it says a lot about the quality of education that's provided in that school district," Superintendent Harold Jeffcoat said. "So, for us, we feel like it does put us on the map."
Cochran will travel to different schools across the state to share her message.
"Our students need a well-rounded education," Cochran said. "They need an education that will open as many doors as possible for them. And of course I want the state of Arkansas to see all of the many benefits that language learning has to offer."
Cochran said traveling to different schools will help her fulfill one of her goals as an educator.
"As a teacher it means that I get to impact more students lives and that's always been my goal," she said.
This is the first time a teacher from Van Buren has received the Teacher of the Year Award. Cochran is now eligible for the National Teacher of the Year honor, which will be announced in the spring.