ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque teacher’s touching story brought popular comedian Ellen DeGeneres to tears on national television. Then, the teacher got the surprise of a lifetime.
Sonya Romero has spent years helping students, and this week, Ellen DeGeneres gave her a big gift in return.
Her kindergartners know her as their loving teacher.
“She’s so proud of me,” said one of her students. “She always hugs me,” said another.
Romero, a kindergarten teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary has gained international recognition for her generosity towards students. She always makes sure her students have clean clothes and food before they start their day.
“It’s humbling for me to be able to share my story, but I know that there’s a lot of teachers, that this is what they do too,” Romero told News 13.
Thursday on the Ellen Show, Romero got a big surprise.
“There’s a kindergarten teacher from Albuquerque, New Mexico in our audience, I want you to meet her, Sonya Romero come on down,” Ellen announced to the audience.
The Ellen Show flew Romero in earlier in the week. Romero thought she’d just be part of the audience, and had no idea what would come next.
On the show, Ellen played a video that Romero’s students and faculty all took part in. “I was speechless, speechless,” said Romero. “That to me is just absolutely priceless to hear what my school and the students had to say.”
Lots of Romero’s kids have hard lives outside of school. Six months ago, she became a foster mom to two of them.
When Ellen got wind of her story, she got Romero’s whole school involved. “We love you Ms. Sonya!” The whole school shouted, holding a sign for Ms. Sonya in the video played on the Ellen Show.
“Well now I’m crying too because it’s sweet as can be and your son’s crying, you’re an amazing woman,” Ellen said, teary eyed.
But that wasn’t the end of the surprise. Ellen presented Romero with a $10,000 check from Target, then another $10,000 check from Target, made out to Lew Wallace Elementary.
Thursday night after the show aired, Romero told KRQE News 13 it still hasn’t sunk in.
“I feel incredibly humbled and grateful,” she said. “I’m glad that it gives teachers some exposure to what really goes on in our classrooms.”
For Romero, hearing from her kids, and knowing that she’s helping them is what matters most.
“I will treasure that forever,” she said of the experience.
Romero said she has no idea what she’s going to do with her $10,000, since it still doesn’t feel real.
Earlier this month, News 13 reported about a London-based group that raised money for her kids to go on their first field trip. More than $1,600 was raised for the field trips. Romero said she’ll take her class to see Cinderella at the Kimo theater, then take a trip to the Albuquerque Zoo and BioPark.