DENVER (CBS4)– A teacher from Denver is being called a model for the state and entire nation.

Barth Quenzer was awarded the Milken Educator Award on Thursday. Quenzer is often called “Mister Q” by his students.

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He is a visual and fine arts teacher and Brown International Elementary School.

Students and staff gathered on Thursday for an assembly that included the surprise announcement. The surprise is part of the award.

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The Department of Education for individual states nominate outstanding teachers without their knowledge.

The Milken Foundation selects up to 40 teachers nationwide to receive the Milken Educator Award. Those winners also receive $25,000 to spend any way they chose.

“Every day I come in and know the work I get to do with my students is exactly what I want to be doing. It’s my passion. And I feel that when students feel that and understand that it becomes more real to them,” said Quenzer.

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According to the Milken Foundation website, the Milken Educator Awards were created in 1985 by education reform leader Lowell Milken to celebrate, elevate and activate excellence in the profession. To date, more than 2,500 K-12 teachers, principals and specialists coast to coast have been honored with over $63 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards. More than $135 million has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout the recipients’ careers in education.