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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Precious Symonette – a creative writing teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received the surprise of a lifetime.

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“I am here on behalf of the Florida Department of Education and Macy’s to congratulate you on being a finalist for Teacher of the Year for the state,” said the presenter.

Symonette is one of five finalists chosen from close to 200,000 public-school teachers in the state – a huge honor for this local educator who says teaching has always been her passion.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was young I feel it’s my responsibility to help the world become a better place. I am hard on my students because the world is going to be harder on them so they could prepare,” said Symonette.

It’s a tough love her students say has changed their lives.

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“She is such a special teacher. She just knows how to love people. I feel like the world needs more love and she knows just how to articulate it into people,” said student Kayla Williams.

“She is focused on her kids. She is an inspirational teacher. She takes a great deal of pride in the creative writing she teaches to her pupils. Her freedom writers are the greatest creation,” said Miami Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Along with the distinction, Symonette was also presented with a $15,000 check on behalf of Macy’s and the Florida Department of Education and a $500 Macy’s gift card. It’s a precious gift she hopes will keep on giving.

“I’m honored to be recognized this is just an opportunity for me to do more things with my kids I am very happy about that truly a blessing,” said Symonette.

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Symonette also took home the Teacher of the Year Award handed out by the Miami-Dade School District back in January.

Marybel Rodriguez