CLAY CITY -- A shocked Clay City Elementary School teacher Joanie Mitchell received WTHI's Golden Apple Award Thursday afternoon as a reward for all her hard work.
It all started when fifth-grader Savannah Hogg decided to nominate Mitchell by filing out a little yellow slip at Applebee's in Terre Haute.
Hogg wrote Mitchell is "nice, hopeful, sweet, never gives up and she is always there to help students when they need her."
From Applebee's, the nominations are sent to WTHI. Nominees go through a long process to become finalists. To win this award, Mitchell had to be nominated by a student or community member. She and two principals each had to write a paper explaining why Mitchell should be chosen.
Principal Dorene Kenworthy said this award is very well deserved.
"I am thrilled for her, her family and our school. We're very proud of her. It's a blessing to know her and talk with her," Kenworthy said.
Before she could become a finalist, Mitchell had to participate in an interview with a representative from WTHI.
Hogg found out Mitchell was a finalist two weeks ago, but didn't even tell her own mother.
"I erased the phone number from the caller ID and everything. It was so hard not to say anything," Hogg said.
Mitchell was told she would find out if she won by Wednesday, March 16, and when she didn't hear anything from WTHI, she started criticizing all the things she hadn't done, only to be completely surprised to receive the award today.
"I was shocked because yesterday she said she didn't win, and then today she got the award," Hogg said.
Mitchell said she feels, "like a little kid."
"I've been nominated several times. It really encourages you to keep working hard," Mitchell added.
Mitchell believes she is carrying on the legacy of her father who was also a teacher. She said she tries to be a kind, compassionate and confidence-building teacher.
"Teaching is a career you can't do for the rewards. It has to come from the heart," Mitchell said.
Mitchell's husband Jack almost broke down into tears talking about his wife and all her hard work.
"She teaches 24 hours a day, during the summers, the weekends. She loves her kids and everything she does. She tries to help them, she'd try to teach even if they didn't pay her," he said.