STAFFORD, VA -- A local teacher who fills his classroom with music, stomping and raps, got a huge surprise on Wednesday, delivered by Virginia's Governor.
When the whole school showed up for an assembly to see Govenor Ralph Northam, Teacher Dan Reichard had no idea the governor was there for him.
Reichard won teacher of the year for Virginia's Region 3. He's the same teacher WUSA9 profiled a few months.
Reichard's classroom is exciting with music, remixes with raps to learn a lesson, dancing and singing.
He calls his students Reichard's Rock Stars. Every morning he greets each student with their personal handshake.
The Washington Post recognized him this year with its own Teacher of the Year title and WUSA9 profiled him. Now, he's a step closer to state title.
"I was so shocked. I had no idea. Teaching isn't about awards and accolades, I love what I do so much, this is just overwhelming," said Reichard.
Building relationships with each child is the key, he said.
"My kids mean everything to me. Literally. I love teaching. It's my calling," said Reichard.
He teaches his kids a rap about pushing through when things get hard.
"Mr. Reichard taught us to have no fear. And to not basically be afraid of anything," said a student last June.
Reichard teaches fifth grade at Stafford County's Kate Waller Barrett Elementary where 50 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunch.
"He's just so decided and committed to his students. I didn't mention all the great things he does, but he actually goes to homes of the students and gets to know their families and what their needs are that's just so commendable. And calling the children Rock Stars, we want to make our children's self esteem good and feel good about themselves," said Gov. Northam.
Reichard credits his choir teacher for bringing him out of his shell and giving him confidence. That teacher stuck with him seven years and built a relationship with him. He strives to do that with his students.
Reichard beat out nominated teachers in eight other Virginia region and he now competes for the state teacher of the year title.