LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jessica Dueñas' classroom is a special place.
'Every day is a special moment with her," sixth-grader Mareese Naves said. "I feel happy that I have Ms. Dueñas as a teacher."
And it's not just the students who recognize Dueñas. She was just named the 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. But instead of taking a sabbatical with her $20,000 award, she's decided to give the prize money back to her students.
The W.E.B. Dubois Academy teacher is giving the students a free trip to Washington, and she hopes it'll have a lifelong impact.
"What would be the best thing for a young man in Louisville to experience? Dueñas said. "And I thought a life-changing opportunity like going to Washington, D.C."
It'll cost almost $800 per student. Twenty-eight young men were chosen for the scholarship trip to the nation's capital.
"There was no fair way to do it except to do it as a raffle," Dueñas said. "So it was really fun this morning pulling and drawing the names and kids drumming."
But she's hoping even the students who didn't win can still come.
"We've been saying save your money. Cut some grass," Dueñas said. "Like I told a couple of them' 'Go cut some grass.' They're like 'ughhh.' But I was like, 'Hey, if you want something, you have to work for it sometimes.'"
Dueñas plans to take the young men to the Smithsonian Museum of African American History.
"I want them to see themselves represented so positively," she said. "I just hope that they realize like the sky is the limit. They can rise above and beyond whatever circumstances, whatever barriers they have to live with. I just hope they understand you can rise above it."
The D.C. trip will be four to five days and is planned for April 2020.
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