KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Sevier County teacher has earned $27,500 to update her classroom technology through ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover contest.

Danielle Roderick, a fourth-grade teacher, was surprised with her win during a pep rally at Catlettsburg Elementary School on March 24. She won both the competition’s $25,000 grand prize and the $2,500 Viewers’ Choice Award for her video submission.

During the pep rally, several teachers were participating in blindfolded soccer kicks. When it was Roderick’s turn, Principal Kim Conrad paused the game, allowing Andy Page, ORAU president and CEO, to surprise Roderick with two oversized checks.

Roderick was chosen as the winner after judges reviewed her video, where she and her students used Jurassic Park to show her classroom’s needs. She and her students created mock-ups fo the items she hoped to buy, from virtual reality glasses, iPads, 3D printers an interactive table to everyday objects like plastic sheets and cardboard tubes

“We are looking to start our own podcast, where students can talk about dinosaurs or other topics mentioned in the classroom,” Roderick said in her video. “We can also use that for social and emotional learning, where students learn about kindness and they discuss those topics with other students.”

This is the 14th time ORAU has given out the Extreme Classroom Makeover award. The company launched the contest in 2008 as a part of its ongoing effort to strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. Since it began, more than $434,000 has been donated to area schools.

The runner-up winner for 2023 will be announced next week. This teacher will receive $5,000.