Joan Kilban said she now knows how Oscar winners feel.
Kilban, a fifth-grade teacher at Hingham Public Schools in Hingham, Massachusetts, is the Future Goals' Most Valuable Teacher of the Year presented by SAP.
She smiled and broke into tears when told that she won the award during a Zoom pep rally. Kilban's smile grew even larger when Boston Bruins forward Charlie Coyle, her favorite player on her favorite team, joined the call to congratulate her and run through some lessons with her students.
"I'm absolutely speechless, you have no idea what this means to me," Kilban said. "All these years when you listen to the Academy Awards and people say, 'Oh, it's just an honor to be nominated,' sometimes you roll your eyes and you think, 'Yeah, right,' everybody wants to win. But legitimately, I know what that feels like now.
"I have been the recipient of the most incredible outpouring of community support, not only from my hometown, the town that I teach in, former colleagues, but most importantly, it's given me the opportunity to reconnect with so many past students and families. I think everybody should be able to go through this process because it has just been surreal. I have been floating on a cloud since this all happened."
Kilban will receive a trip for two to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas or another similar prize. In addition, SAP announced that it is donating $30,000 worth of technology equipment to her school district.
Megan Campedel, an eighth-grade teacher at Avonworth Middle School in Pittsburgh, and Jennifer Armstrong, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Owen J. Roberts Middle School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were the other finalists. SAP will donate $10,000 worth of tech equipment to the school district of each.
"It's going to make a tremendous difference in our school systems, especially given the timing," Kilban said of the SAP donations. "All school systems now are facing unexpected tough economic times and difficult decisions with budgets will have to be made. Needless to say, that kind of money is going to make a tremendous difference, and the timing couldn't be better."
The three finalists emerged from a field of 36 teachers from across the United States and Canada who competed over the past three months to become Future Goals' Most Valuable Teacher of the Month.
Fans chose the Future Goals' Most Valuable Teacher of the Year by visiting NHL.com/mvt during Teacher Appreciation Week from May 4-8 and voting for their favorite candidate.
Amy Schultz, senior director of SAP Global Sponsorships, said SAP is "honored to participate in the NHL/NHL Players' Association Most Valuable Teacher program celebrating our teacher heroes -- Joan, Jennifer and Megan and all of the teachers who are inspirations to us during these challenging times.
"At SAP, we have long supported STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning and digital literacy, including with the NHL and EVERFI, and hope that our donations towards new technology resources in schools can play an impactful role in enhancing the learning experience for students around the country."
Coyle said he was excited that Kilban's students are learning virtually using the Hockey Scholar program while their school is closed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
"I really admire and appreciate everything you do," Coyle told his fellow Weymouth, Massachusetts, native. "Hearing your students talk about you, just how to present yourself, I see you on so many different social media platforms, NHL Instagram, and I look forward to watching every one. I talk about you to my sisters, my family. You're the buzz around town."
The NHL and NHLPA are providing free remote access to Hockey Scholar for both teachers and parents for the first time.
The program, powered by EVERFI and part of the NHL and NHLPA Future Goals initiative, uses hockey to teach STEM to elementary and middle school students. It previously was available only through educational institutions and teachers.
"We're thrilled to work with our partners at SAP, the NHLPA and EVERFI to support teachers and students at three local schools and surprise them with these donations that will leave a lasting Impact on these communities," said Rob Knesaurek, NHL group vice president of youth hockey and industry growth. "Access to computer equipment is vital during this time of remote learning and we're pleased to use our sport and the Future Goals' Most Valuable Teacher Program presented by SAP to create memorable experiences for students and teachers to build stronger, more vibrant communities."
Rob Zepp, NHLPA manager of special projects, agreed.
"During the virtual 'award ceremonies,' it became clear the positive impact these teachers are having on the lives of their students," he said. "Recognizing the fantastic work and dedication of these three local teachers is symbolic of the tremendous efforts of all educators across North America, especially in these uncertain times."
More than 3.1 million students have participated in the Future Goals program across North America since it was founded in 2014, accounting for more than 6.5 million hours of learning.
Students who have participated in the program saw their STEM skills increase by 82 percent, and teachers who incorporated it into their students' coursework said they would recommend the program to fellow educators.
Parents, students and teachers can access the Future Goals program for free by visiting NHL.com/futuregoals. Families can also follow and join the conversation on social media by searching #HockeyAtHome and #HockeyScholar.