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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Precious Symonette took home the Teacher of the Year Award handed out by the Miami-Dade School District.

The next day she was back in the classroom and gathered with her students Friday morning at Miami Norland Senior High.

She said, she remembers taking in the moment when her picture popped up and the schools superintendent started to speak.

“He said this particular teacher is not only a freedom fighter, she is the head of stuff there and then everybody started screaming and yelling, screaming, yelling and everything,” said Symonette.

She said it was so loud, she didn’t even hear her name. She had to be told to go up on stage

Symonette is the creative writing teacher at the school. She says the secret to her success is simple.

“I force my students to tell their stories in any particular genre that they want. I think it’s important for students to know who they are. You cannot truly love someone else if you don’t love and know yourself and I think I push my kids to do that,” said Symonette.

“She doesn’t lower standards so that you can meet them. She makes you raise yours so that way you can meet hers,” said Adonis Valdez, a senior at the school.

While Symonette says she was surprised to be selected as Miami Dade’s Teacher of the Year, the kids in her class aren’t surprised at all.

“When I met Miss Symonette in 10th grade, I was going through a series of things and the things I feel I couldn’t tell my mother at home. I could come and tell her,” said Sierra Perry, a senior at the school.

Along with the title, the 10-year teaching veteran won a new car and $5,000. Symonette says she’s not exactly sure what kind of car she’s won. She was only told that it is a Toyota and she’ll get to pick the model she wants. As for the $5,000, she said she plans on using a part of that money to surprise her kids.

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