WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — A career begun through song has resulted in national recognition.

Madison Elementary’s principal is the newest Milken educator, putting her in an elite group committed to shaping the future.

Students filed into the Madison Elementary theater Thursday morning, with county board members and state education officials already in their seats.

They knew a Wheeling teacher would receive a $25,000 award but little did they know the winner was already sitting among them.

West Virginia singing principal named one of America’s best educators with $25,000 award

Principal Andrea Trio helped open up the ceremonies before she even realized that the packed auditorium was there to celebrate her.

This came as just a complete surprise to me today, I could not be more grateful. I would not be where I am today without my faith, my family, my friends and my staff.

Andrea Trio, 2022 Milken Education Award winner

For 35 years, the Milken Foundation has gone on annual tours to find the elementary educators we all remember for the rest of our lives…and give them the hero’s welcome they deserve.

Or in their words, to celebrate, elevate and activate the profession, which they say Trio does proud.

She has incredible passion for what she does. She is living her purpose, she is living her why, not only during the school day, but deinitely beyond even the walls of Madison Elementary.

Stephanie Bishop, Vice President, Milken Educator Awards

Beginning her career as a music teacher out-of-state, Trio came back home to serve Ohio County children.

7News has reported on the lengths she goes to for her kids, including putting together thousands of bags of food for students during the pandemic, and working with House of the Carpenter to build a new playground.

She believes that once the heart-to-heart ties are made, the learning will follow.

Always students first. It’s building relationships, that’s where it starts. The connection that we make with our students needs to be here, today, tomorrow, forever.

Andrea Trio, 2022 Milken Education Award winner