CALDWELL -- A teacher at Vision Charter School in Caldwell was recognized for her dedication to her students and commitment to helping high schoolers go on to college in a surprise ceremony Thursday.

Rebecca Mitchell was named the 2018 Idaho Teacher of the Year by Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, drawing cheers and applause from her excited classroom.

Mitchell said she was thrilled by the honor.

"We do what we do every single day not having any idea that anybody's even watching, so to know that not only is somebody watching, but they think I do a good job, it's pretty amazing," she said.

In addition to bragging rights, the Teacher of the Year recieves $1,000 and the opportunity to travel around Idaho talking with other teachers, legislators and policymakers about education issues. Mitchell will also travel to Washington D.C. in the spring to meet the president and represent the Gem State in the national Teacher of the Year program.

Mitchell said she applied for the at the end of last school year, enlisting her students to help her answer some of the questions. She teaches language arts and chemistry, as well as serving as the drama director and tennis coach at Vision Charter.

"I wear about every hat that you can wear," she said with a smile.

Mitchell, who has taught for about 20 years, said she hoped to use the platform to tout the importance of going on to higher education after graduating, as well as educate young people about how to take advantage of the opportunities available to them in high school.

Mitchell described teaching as a "passion," rather than a job.

"My favorite part of teaching has always been and will always be the students," she said. "I absolutely adore my students - they know that - and they're the reason I come every day."