One Class at a Time presented by Chick-fil-A of Birmingham.

For 21 years, CBS 42 has been proud to present local teachers with $1,000 grants through its One Class at a Time program, honoring the educators who work tirelessly to make a positive impact on the children of Central Alabama.

On Sept. 19, a CBS 42 production crew, ninth grade students and, of course, the Chick-Fil-A cow, sat packed into a classroom on the third floor of Shades Valley High School, eagerly awaiting the arrival of ninth grade science teacher, Dr. Sharleko McCaskill.

As the classroom door opened, cheers erupted and a shocked McCaskill accepted the $1,000 check while taking in the unexpected scene before her.

Deeply passionate about teaching, McCaskill plans to use the $1,000 to provide her students with equipment necessary to conduct thorough science labs, like microscopes, safety equipment and lab coats, an item that McCaskill says noticeably increases student engagement.

“It’s amazing the excitement students feel just by having and putting on a simple white lab coat to learn and do something they love,” said McCaskill.

Her core mission as a teacher? To show students that the lessons learned in the classroom will benefit them no matter what path they take in the future.

“I try to give them everything I can at this level so they can be ahead of the curve when they pursue future endeavors,” said McCaskill, “I want to show them how the things they’re learning in the classroom are applicable to real life.”

And McCaskill’s methods seem to be working, she shares with a laugh that her students’ first question once cameras were gone and the morning’s chaos died down was, “When will the lab coats be here?”

To nominate a local teacher for CBS 42’s One Class at a Time grant, apply here.