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We surprised a Cleveland teacher with a special gift for making a big difference with her students

On National Teacher Appreciation Week we honor Mrs. Lenora Cruz-Price.

CLEVELAND — A typical day of teaching has dramatically changed during the last year. Instead of a class full of young faces, now those faces take up the screen on Mrs. Lenora Cruz-Price's iPad. 

"We're all growing and connecting. It's been a rough year," said Cruz-Price. 

If there was anyone who could handle all the changes thrown her way, though, it would be Cruz-Price. 

"I think she's what great teachers are," said A. Cory McDaniel, principal of Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy. "I have to kick Cruz-Price out of here at the end of the day because she just wants to make sure she's prepared and that her students have everything they need." 

A dedicated teacher who invests not only in her students' education, but in their lives as well. 

“Students need to know that they have someone they can reach out 24/7," she said. "So am I just their teacher? I don’t know. But I know that I am here for them and they know that."

Her student, Ty'vez Jones, has felt the impact of having her as his teacher. 

"She’s really awesome," he said. "She does a lot of things that she doesn’t have to do and goes out of her way, over boundaries just for us."

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Being virtual the past year, Mrs. Cruz-Price looked for a way to better connect with her students and help them engage in learning. 

"Education is like a bank account," she said. "The more you deposit now the more you can withdraw earlier." 

Earlier this year, she put her money where her mouth is. She invested her own funds to buy each of her students seeds and soil to grow fruits and vegetables at home -- tteaching them about sciences as well as healthy eating habits. 

"It has definitely brought life. Literally brought life. They have been very excited about their plant growing. Eating more vegetables and fruits and growing them."

An investment that has sparked the imagination of her students and has planted a seed for a prosperous future ahead.

"These kids are our future."

We gave her a special surprise, too, for all her hard work. Watch her reaction in the player at the top of this story.

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