ROBINSON, Texas (KWTX) A Robinson ISD teacher got a big surprise in school Tuesday afternoon.
The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission honored Cheryl Holland as the first-ever recipient of the Dr. Anna Steinberger Outstanding Educator Award.
The award included a $1,000 check, and was funded by Steinberger who is a holocaust survivor and one of the first commissioners of the organization.
Holland teaches eighth grade English at Robinson Junior High, and for 15 years has taught students about the holocaust and other crimes against humanity happening in parts of the world.
"It's a tough subject to have to teach in some ways, but it's absolutely necessary,” Holland said.
Her students read various memoirs and watched documentaries about the horrific events that unfolded in Europe during World War II.
"It's in eye-opener for many of them and it helps them look at their situation, their lives in a different perspective,” she said.
In late 2016, Holland applied for the honor.
Suzanne Ransleben with the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission said Holland was one of 16 candidates considered for the award.
"It was a tough competition. We have some fabulous teachers here in Texas, but she rose to the top. She really was the epitome of what we stand for and therefore we gave it to her as the inaugural award,” Ransleben said.
Faculty and students watched as she was surprised with the award, and many said she truly made a difference in the school.
Holland will be retiring from Robinson Junior High at the year’s end.
She said she knows the future generation of students will continue to learn about the subject, and hopefully carry what they learn with them.
“I'm very privileged to have been part of my student's journey,” she said.