SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Recognition was given on Wednesday to 29-year-old Margaret Hersey, an English teacher of the Springfield Honors Academy at The High School of Commerce.

Hersey is the only educator in Massachusetts this year to receive the prestigious Milken Educator Award. As part of her tribute, the Milken Family Foundation awarded a $25,000 gift to Hersey.

“There’s a lot of special things my students and I do together,” Hersey told 22News. “I don’t know what it is that brought all of these things to me today. I know something that’s really important to me: building a community in my classroom with my students.”

Hersey’s 9th-grade students, as well as her principal, told 22News that they’ve experienced her special qualities that earned her this rare recognition.

“Her attitudes, approach, and her aura in class is really nice, calming,” student Quentin St. Val explained. “That’s why we’re able to focus on work.”

Springfield Honors Academy Principal Grace Howard-Donin said that Hersey “puts students first—always—in her planning, her curriculum building, and her discipline.”

The California-based Milken Family Foundation has been saluting teachers of superior quality since 1987.