BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Melissa Salkeld, a kindergarten teacher at Prettyboy Elementary School, has received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award recognizing teachers across the country who make a difference, school officials and organizers said.

Maryland Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury and Superintendent of Schools for Baltimore County Public Schools Dr. Darryl Williams were joined by Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley to present Salkeld with the award during a surprise assembly.

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“We know that teachers profoundly impact the positive trajectory of student lives, which reverberates through our communities, the fabric of our nation and generations yet to come,” Choudhury said in a statement. “Our mission to realize a bright future for every child is only possible through the efforts of educators like Ms. Salkeld whose exceptional skill, dedication and success prioritizes both the academic acceleration and social-emotional wellbeing of her young students.”

Williams credited Salkeld’s “innovative teaching methods, leadership in the school community and unwavering belief in her students.”

A biography on the awards’ website praised Salkeld’s lessons teaching student’s real-life scenarios and precise vocabulary.

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“Salkeld often divides the class into small groups, allowing students to work collaboratively as she moves from table to table, differentiating to meet each child’s strengths and needs,” according to the biography.

The Milken Family Foundation, which created the award in 1987, said it publicly recognizes teachers to inspire fellow educators, students and members of the community. Candidates’ names are put forward by a panel appointed by their state’s department of education.

Over the last 35 years, the foundation has awarded $70 million in prize money to teachers across the US. Salkeld is one of 60 winners of the unrestricted $25,000 prize and the only one from Maryland this season.

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Recipients are also invited to join the Milken Educator Network, a professional development group of more than 2,800 educators across the country the organization said.

CBS Baltimore Staff