Holli Hoskins received quite a surprise Thursday.
The third-grade teacher at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa said she was "sitting on the floor with her students" at an assembly when South Routt superintendent Kelly Reed began to speak about an outstanding teacher at the school.
Hoskins listened, curious. Even when one of her students, Hannah "Yellow" Mays, began pointing at her, Hoskins didn't catch on.
Then Reed said that Hoskins had been named Routt County's Teacher of the Year for 2006, an award given by Wal-Mart that comes with $1,000 for Hoskins' classroom.
"I was completely shocked and even more delighted," said Hoskins, 48, who just finished her first year of teaching in South Routt after two years at Hayden Valley Elementary School in Hayden.
The news brightened up a day that Hoskins said she usually doesn't care for.
"I hate the last day of school," she said Tuesday. "The next day it's so quiet. I miss the kids."
The South Routt school year ended Thursday, and 14 more students have left Hoskins' care.
"When that last bell rings on the last day, they run out and never look back," she said. "They've crossed the threshold out of my classroom and into the fourth grade."
A parent nominated Hoskins for the award, which the fun-loving teacher said she likely received because of the caring relationship she builds with her students -- such as "Yellow."
"About halfway through the school year we started calling her 'Yellow,'" Hoskins said, referring to Hannah's favorite color. "She wouldn't even answer to 'Hannah.' She's just a darling."
As for the $1,000, Hoskins already has a plan. Her students this year created a book that gives advice for a happy life as part of Hoskins' constant focus on writing. She plans to frame the pages of artwork and advice created by "her kids," and hang the pages in the school.
"With the way small towns work, maybe one day their kids will walk by that art and see what their parents did," Hoskins said. Her husband, Gerry Sutton, teaches music at the school. The couple lives in Steamboat Springs, but Hoskins said they feel right at home in South Routt.
"The community is so good," she said. "The families have been so kind."
Hoskins said she was proud to receive the award from Wal-Mart, which employs the parents and grandparents of several of her students.
"I really respect that company," she said.