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'I'm Still In Shock': Brooklyn Educator Princess Francois Receives Prestigious Milken Award

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Wednesday was a thrilling day at a Brooklyn high school when an assistant principal was surprised with what some consider the Oscar of teaching.

It comes with cash.

There were cheers and big hugs from students at MESA Charter High School in Bushwick as their assistant principal got the surprise.

Princess Francois, or Mama Fran as some of her students call her, is the only educator in New York state to receive the Milken Educator Award this year. She's one of just 40 educators across the country.

The announcement stunned her into relative silence.

"I'm still in shock," she said.

Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Family Foundation, flew in from California to deliver the good news. She says greatness in education should be recognized.

"Research and our own personal experience tell us the single most important school-related factor determining how much you learn in school is the quality of the educators you encounter," Foley said.

Foley explained that you can't be nominated for the award. The Milken Family Foundation searches for its recipients. The foundation found Francois because she improved regents pass rates, focuses on school-wide diversity and a college-bound culture, reported CBS2's Vanessa Murdock.

The award comes with $25,000.

Once the shock wore off, Francois told CBS2 her mom is her inspiration.

"She immigrated from Haiti, and worked her butt off to make sure I could get a proper education," she said.

Now Francois inspires students from the same community she grew up in.

"I just want to make sure every student I come into contact with gets that quality education," she said.

Judging by student's reactions to her name being called, Mama Fran is going all that and so much more at MESA.

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