TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Melissa Woodland received a surprise Thursday morning in her classroom.

Woodland, a special needs teacher at I.B. Perrine Elementary School, was presented a $4,500 check from CenturyLink to enhance technology in the classroom. Specifically, Woodland will use the money to purchase iPads and headphones for the students in her program.

When Jim Schmit, regional vice president of operations for CenturyLink, and school Principal Tammy Rodabaugh walked into her classroom, Woodland was all smiles as she learned she was selected as the recipient of the award.

“I totally forgot about it,” she said, noting later that she had assumed she wasn’t selected because she thought the company was going to announce winners earlier in the year.

Melissa Woodland, a special needs teacher at I.B. Perrine Elementary School in Twin Falls, receives a check from CenturyLink's Jim Schmit on Thursday to help improve technology in the classroom. (Photo by Andrew Weeks)

She heard about the grant opportunity through a school consultant, she said, and thought, I won’t know if I don’t try. She went with those instincts and filled out an application. It took a while, but as she found out on Thursday, her efforts paid off.

“I’m really excited about this,” she said, explaining that she’ll be able to purchase about 10 laptops plus headphones for her students. “We don’t have a lot of iPads.”

She said the school’s future purchase of the technology will, among other things, provide students with a visual learning experience through videos and apps.

Student Alexander Urrabazo, 9, said he enjoys learning about Idaho history and is excited to be able to use iPads to learn about Sacajawea and other historic figures.

Rodabaugh said she’s proud of her teachers, who actively seek out funding resources to help the school instead of going to taxpayers. The school’s technology is in some respects dated, she said, and CenturyLink’s effort to help improve it is greatly appreciated.

“Now I don’t have to keep the secret anymore,” she said of the Thursday surprise for Woodland, “because I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks.”

Christi Lamun, a teacher in Hazelton, also was awarded a CenturyLink grant in the amount of $2,087.

Schmit said the company has awarded $750,000 to Idaho schools since it started the program in 2005. Teachers fill out an application in the fall, and then the waiting process begins. Applicants are reviewed by a committee to assess the need. Selected schools may receive an award grant of up to $5,000. Teachers have to demonstrate what technology the money would be used for in the classroom.

He asked Rodabaugh if she thought the company’s $5,000 cap on the grants is enough to make a difference in Idaho schools.

“Oh, yes,” she said. The nearly five-grand that Woodland received “will go a long away.”