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For many, Mondays are a struggle and often not too memorable.

That wasn’t the case for Kolleen Moncada on Monday, Aug. 22.

Moncada, a teacher with Champions child care at Pewaukee Lake Elementary School, went into work and was surprised with a $10,000 check.

Memorable.

Moncada, of Waukesha, was honored with an Education Legacy Award from KinderCare Education, the country’s leading provider of early childhood education and care.

Along with the $10,000 cash award, Moncada - who recently gave birth to twin girls - receives an all-expense paid trip to a national early childhood education conference.

Moncada’s response?

“I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m really surprised,” Moncada said. “Teaching is my passion. Kids are my passion. So I just give it my dedication, my all, so I’m overwhelmed right now.”

Elite group

Each year, just seven teachers nationally receive the honor. Since 2008, KinderCare has been giving the award to its best early childhood and school-age educators.

Moncada, who teaches Champions summer camp classes at another site during the summer, was brought to Pewaukee Lake Elementary by her husband Aug. 22 under the ruse that she needed to review the new 4K program that’ll be starting this year.

Instead, she received a big check, flowers and vigorous applause from students, parents and Champions representatives.

Moncada’s strengths as an educator include engagement and meeting the needs and interests of each child and helping them grow individually, said Champions Area Manager Annette Anderson, who works closely with Moncada.

“She also collaborates and works with the families so we can help each individual child grow throughout the year,” Anderson said. “The parents see her every day. So they rely on her a lot, and she’s a spokesperson for the day that they miss with their child.”

As part of the award selection process, Champions representatives visit the programs, talk to parents and even interview some of the children, said Semira Sarancic, regional vice president of KinderCare’s Champions Division.

“We look at everything,” Sarancic said. “So often teachers don’t get recognized for all the work that they do; this award is truly just to recognize that.”

In addition to the new twins, Moncada and her husband, Rick, have two other children.

But Moncada said she also cares deeply about the youngsters she teaches.

“I have my classroom; those are my kids too. I love them,” Moncada said. “And I’d do anything for them that I would normally do for my own kids. All I try to do is give my heart and soul.”

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