BUFFALO, N.Y.-- From fly fishing to flying spuds in space, a local teacher was honored Monday, who isn't afraid to teach lessons that are out of the box.
Andrew Franz is a special education teacher at the Hamlin Park Claude and Ouida Clapp Academy in Buffalo.
He is also a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) booster, and literally helped his 7th and 8th grade students reach the stars by recently conducting a potato farming experiment with the International Space Station.
Monday, Franz was surprised during a school assembly with the Milken Family Educator Award and $25,000.
The national award is known as the "Oscar of Teaching". It aims to celebrate, elevate and inspire innovators in the classroom. Franz says he was overwhelmed by the surprise.
"I was in shock. I was actually like, actually mouthing the names of people who would be called... I had no clue what the award was, I thought we were just here for an assembly," Franz said, "I thought Doctor [Kriner] Cash was just coming out to give us a slap on the back and, which, was more than deserved, our kids really performed, you know, well last year. But yeah, I had no idea."
Franz is the second and final recipient from New York State to receive the honor. He joins 44 other teachers from across the country given the award. He says he and his colleagues love what they do.
"We love coming here everyday, we love working here. and I really think we are going to be a success story here in Buffalo for years to come."
Franz has been teaching at the Hamlin Park Claude and Ouida Clapp Academy for about 4 years, and he's always encouraging his students to learn more about the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.
For his next project, Franz hopes to send his kids to Washington, D.C. for a STEM conference.