The Bobs' Award, funded by anonymous Lawrence businessmen named Bob, has been presented for the past three years to reward excellence in teaching.
Woodlawn School third-grade teacher Sue Siegfreid tells her students to "keep at it."
She's been practicing what she teaches for more than three decades, and Thursday her dedication to her students and education was rewarded when she was presented the 1999-2000 Bobs' Award.
"I'm very honored and proud to be working in the Lawrence district and especially this school," a tearful Siegfreid said after receiving the surprise award. "I always tell my students to keep at it, and when they get it I say, 'Life is good.' For me today, life is very good."
Siegfreid received the award at a special school assembly, with students from the school, district administrators and Siegfreid's family, who hid in a gym closet, in attendance. The surprise was kept under wraps from almost everyone.
"When they said it was the third-grade teacher, at first I thought, 'No,'" Siegfreid said. "I just can't imagine being awarded for something I love to do."
The Bobs' Award is a special award for excellence in teaching given annually by a group of anonymous Lawrence businessmen who share the same first name.
"A lot of very important people in this town think the most important people in this town are you," presenter Hank Booth told Woodlawn students. "And the next important people are the teachers, so it's important that we recognize their efforts."
Woodlawn principal Paulette Strong said she knew from the time she came to Woodlawn that Siegfreid was special.
"I think we have the best teacher," she said. "Mrs. Siegfreid is the jewel in the crown."
Strong said she was impressed with Siegfreid's knowledge and practice of superior instruction.
"While expecting a lot of her students, Sue nurtures them by saying, 'I love you to death' or 'I'm so excited about what you just did that I'm going to crow -- cock-a-doodle doo!" Strong said.
For her efforts Siegfreid was awarded a $7,463 check, all taxes paid.
Past winners of Bobs' Awards are Broken Arrow Elementary teacher Val Howland, who won a one-year lease on a Ford Mustang convertible in 1997, and Southwest Junior High teacher Gary Webber who received a high-powered telescope and a trip to Sedona, Ariz., for stargazing in 1998.
Siegfreid, who lives on a farm, said she has more than enough ideas for spending the money but will start with a dinner date for her husband and three children.
"We don't eat out very often," she said. "I think I'll take everyone out tonight."
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.