DREXEL HILL (WPVI) -- It's not just another Friday at St. Dorothy school in Drexel Hill.
Students, staff and family of Beth Anne Gallagher gathered for a special mass at the school to surprise her with the National Catholic Educational Association Distinguished Teacher Award.
"She's going to be shocked, super surprised," said Beth Anne's husband, Paul Gallagher.
"She thinks we're going to mass," said Louise Sheehan, Principal at St. Dorothy.
But this was not your ordinary mass.
"I'm just excited for her. She deserves it. She's just a phenomenal person," added Sheehan.
"Means a lot to me, means more to her," said Gallagher's father, John McParland.
Mrs. Gallagher encourages her students to pay it forward in a project her class does every year.
And today, her school wanted to celebrate her award.
"Everyone loves her," said 8th grader Maggie Salmon.
"I learned so much in her class, I mean not even related to school. Just like around people and just being kind to others. She teaches so many things," said 8th grader Dylan Rooney.
"This is like a dream. It's like, someone pinch me. It's so surreal," said Gallagher during her acceptance speech.
Mrs. Gallagher says this was more than she could imagine. It's the perfect gift on what happens to be her birthday.
And as a gift to the school in honor of their distinguished teacher, the Archdiocese is giving these students a holiday - a day off in her honor.
Mrs. Gallagher just hopes that her students will continue to share their gifts with the world.
"To one person, you might be the world. I want them to be the world for somebody," said Mrs. Gallagher.
Students surprise Catholic teacher who won national award
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