YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Teachers have been the backbone of the pandemic. These frontline heroes have gone above and beyond to educate our children in a new world. On Tuesday, one local teacher got a big, surprise thank you.

Kelley Payne, an English teacher at Tabb Middle School, received a Virginia-themed vacation courtesy of the Virginia Lottery’s “Thank a Teacher” campaign. Her school is also a winner. It will receive a $5,000 credit from The Supply Room to use to buy school supplies.

Payne is one of two teachers selected at random for the prize, out of more than 3,000 applicants. During Teacher Appreciation Week, teachers received a special “thank-you” note as part of the Virginia Lottery’s Thank a Teacher campaign, and Payne submitted the code found on the card for her chance to win.

She has been teaching for 20 years. She got the exciting news Tuesday during a special visit to the school, which included Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam.

“I never win anything” said Payne after the presentation ceremony.

The teacher was joined by fellow teachers and students who were happy she received the vacation.

Payne was also glad to enjoy the campaign with students who mean the world to her.

“I love that I love being a teacher. I love working with students. I love all of my kids. It’s nice to get that feedback once in a while. I love that opportunity was also given to them to write postcards to their teachers,” she said.

Since 1999, the Virginia Lottery has provided $10 billion to public education in the commonwealth according to deputy director Frank Wagner.

Wagner says this past year has been the biggest one yet for the Virginia Lottery.

Payne has the choice between a Virginia Wine and Beer vacation or health and wellness.

Photo courtesy: York County School Division