DENVER (KDVR) — Turner Middle School teacher Jessica May was surprised with a ceremony Friday, naming her the 2024 Colorado Teacher of the Year.

Ms. May has been teaching several subjects including math, science, social studies and language arts in the Thompson School District for decades, according to a release from the Colorado Department of Education. She currently teaches family and consumer sciences.

CDE said the selection committee acknowledged her “innate abilities to connect with her students.”

As 2024 Colorado Teacher of the Year, Ms. May represents the entire teaching profession for the state and is automatically nominated for the National Teacher of the Year competition. She and other states’ nominees will be honored at a special ceremony at the White House and get the opportunity to go to NASA’s Space Camp.

“Ms. May exemplifies the ideal educator who not only imparts real-world knowledge to her middle school students but fosters strong connections with them as well,” Colorado’s education commissioner Susana Córdova said. “Her ability to relate to and inspire young minds is truly commendable, and I’m excited to witness her transformative impact as our next Teacher of the Year!”

Thompson School District Superintendent Marc Schaffer said Ms. May has been tireless in her pursuit for student growth, achievement and excellence throughout the last 21 years of teaching.

With the award, she will also become a member of the Colorado Education Commissioner’s Teacher Cabinet.