Meet our 2020 Thank a Teacher winners 

Lottery gets creative to surprise two educators with some good news

Two teachers win Virginia-themed vacations and $5,000 in credit for their schools!

Circumstances may have changed, but our mission to support K-12 public education in Virginia hasn’t. When it came to surprising our 2020 Thank a Teacher winners with the exciting news that they had won, the Lottery got creative to keep the surprises special, and safe, for our winners. 

When the Lottery launched the fifth annual Thank a Teacher campaign earlier this spring, there was no predicting just how different this year would be. In March, we organized a remote surprise for the student winners of our third annual Thank a Teacher Art Contest. Then, because distance learning prevented us from sharing our printed thank-you notes for Teacher Appreciation Week, the Lottery and its partners at the Virginia PTA encouraged the public to thank teachers with digital thank-you notes. Over 6,000 digital thank-you notes were distributed this year – double the amount of last year!

6445 thank you notes

The final step was to surprise our two Thank a Teacher winners. The winners were drawn from Virginia public school educators who received a digital thank-you note during Teacher Appreciation Week and entered the unique code found on the note into our annual drawing. Since we couldn’t be there to surprise the winning teachers in person, the Lottery worked with principals, school AV specialists, co-teachers and spouses to set up video chats where Lottery officials could pop in and surprise the two winning teachers with the good news.

Our first winner was fifth grade teacher Elizabeth Flaherty at Lewis and Clark Elementary School in Caroline County. The Lottery’s Executive Director Kevin Hall and Public Affairs and Community Relations Manager Jennifer Mullen were joined by First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam via Zoom to congratulate Elizabeth and her team. In addition to the Virginia vacation and $5,000 in credit for her school from The Supply Room, Elizabeth was invited to bring her class to visit the Executive Mansion this fall courtesy of the first lady!

The second winner was librarian Leslie Howard at Fairhill Elementary School in Fairfax County. Leslie was invited to a staff meeting under the guise that she had to present a library report to the entire staff. Before she could get to her presentation, Jennifer and Secretary of Education Atif Qarni announced the good news. Leslie was ecstatic to learn she had won but still very determined to share her library presentation, which Secretary Qarni enthusiastically read. 

Both teachers will choose between a winery and brewery trip in the Shenandoah Valley or a health and relaxation trip in Hot Springs. Each of their schools also received $5,000 in credit from our friends at The Supply Room. 

Last updated 6/19/20