PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Mandy Vance has worked for the Oregon Trail School District for 15 years. On Thursday, she was awarded Oregon Teacher of the Year.

She says this honor means everything to her.

“I just, I feel so blessed beyond words,” she said. “I’m so thankful for this school district.”

Vance started as a long-term substitute and became a teacher at Boring Middle School. She now works at Cedar Ridge Middle School on a special assignment this fall. She told KOIN 6 she plans to always work in education.

“I have no desire to do anything other than work in education,” Vance said. “That is the best job out there and more people should do it.”

As teacher of the year, Vance will serve as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers. She will also receive professional development and will network with other state teachers of the year.

With the $10,000 she was awarded by the Oregon Lottery, Vance said she plans to create a scholarship for students who want to become teachers.

“I really, truly can’t think of a profession where you get to live that out every single day,” Vance said. “Even the days where you struggle, you get to go back and figure out how to do it better the next day and build these relationships that last for a lifetime.

Jax Wakefield, one of Vance’s students, said she deserves this special recognition.

“She’s the best teacher ever,” he said. “She makes learning really, really fun. It’s – she works with you, so then you can get your goals.”

Wakefield said he has learned a lot in her classroom, including “that you might fail at first, but if you keep trying, then you can succeed.”

Vance said that is what she wants most for her kids.

“I think giving back and pouring into kids’ lives, there’s nothing better that you can be proud of,” she said. 

The Oregon Trail School District was also awarded $5,000.