CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — This year’s Rhode Island STEAM Educator Award went to a high school teacher in Central Falls.

Alison Murray was surprised Wednesday with the award for her outstanding career as a science teacher.

The STEAM Educator Award recognizes educators for their excellence in teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Mathematics. Officials praised Murray for “empowering students to think critically and make real-world connections.”

Murray has been teaching in Rhode Island public schools for more than a decade, officials said, and she currently teaches computer science and engineering. She was previously selected for the University of Rhode Island’s Teacher at Sea program, where she helped her high school students build a boat that would later be launched off the university’s research vessel.

“From exploring 3D printing to building a boat launched into the Atlantic, Central Falls students are receiving a truly world-class STEAM education thanks to Alison Murray,” said R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, who was there to help present the award.

Murray received a $500 classroom stipend and a $500 personal award courtesy of Rhode Island Energy. She was also given two free passes for the Explorer Riverboat Tour courtesy of Blackstone Valley Tourism.

“Every student deserves an enriching, engaging, and inclusive education,” Gov. Dan McKee said. “Thanks to Alison Murray, students at Central Falls High School receive just that.”