They asked special education teacher Joanna Vincenzo to come to school today, claiming they needed her for a work-related project.

When she arrived, she was handed the award.

Two parents and one colleague at school all nominated her for the award.

Out of 150 nominees nationwide, three teachers won.

They will each receive approximately $5,000 worth of sensory equipment to enhance their students’ learning experience.

“We have been thinking—without even knowing about this fantastic award—about different ways to help students self-regulate,” said Vincenzo. “Perhaps exercise balls and vibrating pillows.”

“We wanted to give sensory rooms, corners or hallways so that teachers have special sensory equipment for their students that they are serving, so that they can regulate, calm down,” explained Amanda DeLuca, board president of The More Than Project.

“Joanna is a wonderful teacher,” said Beverly Prati, Bridgeport special education director. “She has passion and she really cares about her students. She’s not only their friend, she’s their voice.

The More Than Project also honors special needs caregivers and siblings as well as teachers.

They work with a company called Fun and Function to provide special equipment to classrooms.