WINFIELD, W.Va. — A Putnam County teacher has been named West Virginia’s 2017 Milken Educator of the Year.

Erika Klose, a seventh grade science teacher at Winfield Middle School, received a $25,000 award during a school assembly Monday.

“This was a total surprise. I had no idea,” Klose said afterward on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Klose was joined by previous West Virginia Milken Educator Award winners, including state School Superintendent Steven Paine. U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice were also on hand to congratulate her.

She was the only teacher in West Virginia to win the award this year.

Klose has been teaching at Winfield Middle for almost 10 years. She worked as a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey before becoming a teacher.

She said it’s important to keep students interested in science.

“I try to ask them to do science the way scientists do science and give them opportunities to solve problems,” she said. “I just feel like it’s my job to make it as interesting as it can possibly be and to connect it to the world that they know.”

Klose said she enjoys her job because she has a real passion for teaching.

“I love my work. This is, what I believe, I’m called to to do,” she said. “I’m just so blessed that I work with wonderful teachers who area all truly committed to the best for our students.”

Klose said she plans to use part of the $25,000 to go to Disney World.

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