Hugo Cruz is May's winner of the One Class At A Time award. He is in his fourth year teaching second graders at Vista Del Monte Elementary in Palm Springs.
Cruz said he was "really surprised" to learn that he was this month's award recipient "because it came out of nowhere," he added.
A parent whose child is enrolled in Cruz's class nominated him for the honor. In her submission, she described Cruz as "an asset to his students" for his work in the school's Dual Immersion Program.
Cruz said the goal of the program is to enable students to "excel in Spanish and English academically and be multicultural leaders of our community."
He said he plans to purchase more books for his classroom with the $500 award, made possible by The Walter Clark Legal Group in partnership with News Channel 3.
Cruz said he feels fortunate to be able to teach students and at the same time "be able to see their growth."
He reflected on his own background growing up, and said it has become a tool he utilizes daily to not only connect with his students, but their families as well.
The feedback he receives from parents of his students further proves how beloved he is in his community.
If you know a deserving teacher you'd like to nominate, or you're an educator and would like to nominate yourself, be sure to do so here: https://kesq.com/one-class-at-a-time/#//