YUKON, Okla. (KFOR) - An Oklahoma teacher is being recognized for all she does for her special needs students at a Yukon elementary school.
"This is a washing machine and we're doing laundry," Yeneer Oruru said to her students at Surrey Hills Elementary.
Laundry is one of the many life lessons that Yeneer teaches her eight students, from Kindergarten to third grade. "We want to separate the whites from colors."
Yeneer also teaches them social skills, job duties, and financial responsibility by making and selling coffee to school staff for a dollar a cup.
On the day our News 4 crew visited the classroom, the children followed a script, asking for the dollar, then handing each drink to each staff member, and thanking them. After completing the task, each child beamed with pride as Yeneer was there to give them praise.
"One dollar! Great job, yay!" Yeneer cheered.
"You just need to see her in action, you can see the love in her eyes, the care, the kindness," school financial secretary Frankie Bottom said.
Frankie recently learned that Yeneer was paying for many supplies out of her own pocket.
"I made some phone calls to our PTA and some other people and then I thought, let's try the Pay it 4ward program, so then I emailed you," Frankie said.
And First Fidelity Bank was happy to present the $400 to Frankie, to pass along to Yeneer in a surprise visit to her classroom.
"Yeneer, I have watched you, and I see the way you love your children, and I see your determination that they are going to be successful in life. I cannot be more honored to be the one who nominated you and to give you this on behalf of Channel 4, the Pay It 4ward program, and First Fidelity Bank."
Yeneer gave Frankie a huge hug and said, "I don't deserve this."
But she does.
Yeneer's life started with trials and hardships as an impoverished child immigrant from Cuba.
"We lived in a little studio apartment," Yeneer said. "My grandmother was my hero."
Her grandmother worked three jobs to raise her, and then Yeneer took on three jobs to pay for college.
She was the first in her family to attend.
"I remember on graduation day, all my friends had a vehicle to get to their graduation. We didn't have a vehicle so we rode three buses but we made it there. And it doesn't matter how we got there, the fact is that we made it there, and that's the key with these kids, it doesn't matter how many steps it's going to take them to get there, but they will make it there," Yeneer said.
She now has two master's degrees in special education and was nominated by her colleagues as Surrey Hills' Teacher of the Year.
After 15 years of teaching, Yeneer hasn't forgotten a single student.
"There are times that I just go back through my book of letters and notes just to recall them because they're so meaningful," she said.
Nor could her students forget the teacher who always greets each child with a hug, and who lovingly gives her all to see each child succeed.
"It's the best thing that could've happened to me," Yeneer said smiling.
Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.