RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) — A Jasper County teacher was selected as a finalist for South Carolina’s Teacher of The Year.

State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver, made the trip Thursday morning to the school to surprise the English teacher. Many students and staff packed the gym at the Ridgeland Secondary Academy of Excellence to honor Amsavalli Velayuthan.

Called Mrs. V by her students, she joins four other teachers nominated for the prestigious award. Her colleagues said she deserves it because of her dedication to her students and school.

Velayuthan said her purpose is to serve and educate her students and it’s something she takes pride in. She says she wants to use this nomination to advocate for her students and district. Velayuthan told WSAV there’s greatness hidden at her school and she wants to shine a light on it.

“We all are one family, one love, one Jasper, and we are number one,” Velayuthan said. “And there’s so many greatness that’s being hidden that is not known. But I want an opportunity to be an ambassador to the world and to my district. That yes, these are great, there are great things that we see every day.”

Weaver also presented her with a check worth $10,000 for being selected as a finalist. If Velayuthan wins she could take home up to $25,000. She would also spend a year as an ambassador and spokesperson for the Department of Education.

“Mrs. V’s perseverance, her growth mindset, her focus on excellence and her willingness to do whatever it takes to help her students learn really set her apart from the pack,” Weaver told WSAV.