KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knox County high school teacher earned national recognition for her hard work in the classroom in the form of a $25,000 award from the Milken Family Foundation.

Paula Franklin teaches AP history and social studies at West High School. Eighty-two percent of her students passed the AP history exam, well above the national average of 50 percent.

She encourages her students to learn in their own way, making her classroom an open environment.

“I hope that, that I care about them is evident every day, but I think it is important to see that people care about teachers and what we do and that what we do is important. And it’s such good work and I think its such a good thing to celebrate in front of any audience, especially students who get to benefit from it every day,” said Franklin.

Franklin says she hasn’t decided what to do with the money, but will likely pay off some student loans.

She was one of two teachers in Tennessee honored with the award. Katherine Watkins received the award for her work teaching English at Millington Central High School near Memphis.