Two Franklin County Schools teachers were surprised to win the McConnell Foundation Extra Mile Award on Friday.

Elkhorn Elementary School primary teacher Kay Combs and Franklin County High School chorus, piano and voice teacher Raye Hurley were presented with the awards at their respective schools by former Franklin County Magistrate and retired Franklin County High School teacher Don Sturgeon. Both Hurley and Combs received a $5,000 check.

The Extra Mile Award is sponsored by the Gene and John Ed McConnell Foundation. According to a previous State Journal article, the late John Ed McConnell grew up in Peaks Mill and attended Elkhorn High School and Eastern State Teachers College. McConnell, who married a teacher, eventually became president of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, now Anthem.

"It was a surprise, a big surprise," Combs said shortly before her students crowded around her to give her a hug.

Combs said that she "has no doubt" that she will use the money for her classroom, but did not say in what way.

Hurley has similar plans for her prize money. She said she was thinking before the ceremony about how she was going to find money for new piano benches and keyboards, adding that it is an honor to have been recognized.

"To have an award like this gives you a little validation that what you are doing is making a difference," Hurley said.

In the award's nominee packet, qualifications were to set an example, inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities, have the respect and admiration of students, parents, co-workers and administrators, play an active leadership role in the community and go "the extra mile." Nominations were considered by the McConnell Foundation Board of Directors. The award is open to all full-time kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers in Frankfort and Franklin County's public, private or parochial schools.

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