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Ellen DeGeneres Surprises LDS Teacher with $15K Prize for Her Low-Income Orchestra Class

Thanks to KSL for making us aware of this story.

April Nielsen teaches orchestra at Lava Ridge Intermediate in Santa Clara, Utah. As a low-income school, many of Nielsen's students live below the poverty level and some are even homeless.

"I had one sweet little boy come to me and tell me his family had just been evicted from their apartment," Nielsen says about her orchestra classes. "I had one other cute little boy who had his violin and he would take it with him from class to class instead of keeping it in his lockers. I asked him about it and he said that's all he had. It was heartbreaking."

But Nielsen does all she can to inspire and uplift her students, from creating a birthday video for Ellen DeGeneres to entering them in a Scotch contest run with The Ellen Show to get more funding.

Recently, Ellen had Nielsen on her show and surprised the teacher with a live video of her class. The students thanked her for teaching them how to be courageous and reach for the stars.

That's when Ellen brought out the biggest present of all, $15,000 from the Scotch contest for Nielsen's class.


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