According to the Associated Press, teacher Ron Clark, of the Ron Clark Academy, opened a letter from Oprah last week, and was excited about just receiving mail from the daytime talk show star. But, when he noticed the extra piece of paper -- a check -- he was shocked.
It was a $365,000 check for the innovative private school he opened in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods in 2007. He called it "incredible."
"We teach school all day and fundraise at night," Clark told the AP, who finds private donors to pay most of the $14,000 annual tuition for each student. "To have an unsolicited gift come like that is incredible."
Nearly all of the Ron Clark Academy's 80 students are from middle and low-income households. Parents pay a small part of the tuition, while the rest is paid by donors.
Clark surprised his students with the news of the donation Wednesday morning (December 31). Everyone cheered upon hearing the news, while others cried.
"Everything they learn is enhanced because of the teachers' dedication and creativity," said Gloria Nesmith, whose son, Cameron, is a fifth-grader at the academy. "And Oprah noticed. I'm just overwhelmed."
The donation was just one of more than $4 million given to educational programs in 2008 by Oprah's Oprah Winfrey Foundation.