A Hudson Valley teacher who's going above and beyond for her students during the pandemic received a surprise of a lifetime from Ellen DeGeneres.

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On Wednesday's The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen DeGeneres surprised Cornwall kindergarten teacher Melissa Stewart. Stewart teaches at Cornwall on Hudson Elementary School and has been going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melissa told Ellen she’s been driving to each of her students’ houses to read to them and give them the human connection from a teacher they've been lacking during the pandemic.

"It's one of the hardest things. You're with them from September to March and then all of sudden you get an email saying we are going to be out. And then you're getting emails from parents just saying how stressed and the anxiety was so hard for these kids. It literally broke my heart. I have two kids of my own and I would never want them to feel that way. That someone just left them," Stewart told Ellen. "So I started going out to houses and reading to them, blowing bubbles and doing chalk and mazes in their driveway and just talking to them. Letting them know that I didn't leave them and that I'm there and that everything is going to be ok."

Stewart also took money out of her own pocket to create educational tool kits to take work off parents’ plates.

"So the financial burden has been huge for a lot of parents. A lot of parents have lost their jobs. So I decided anyway I could take a burden off the parents. So I went and created these toolkits for math and reading and writing. I filled them with anything I could think of that could help them at home," Stewart said.

Ellen surprised Stewart with a special message for her students and then gave her an even bigger surprise. During Ellen’s Month of Giving Thanks, Ellen and Shutterfly helped Stewart's students’ education by providing $20,000 in technology to her Cornwall school and gave Stewart $15,000 to help pay off her student loans.

Check out the full segment below:


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