Te Mata School "super teacher" Penny Chatfield had never won anything.
until Thursday when, at a special assembly at the school, she discovered she had won a trip to infinity and beyond.
Chatfield's not off to space, yet, but she is now preparing for a voyage to the next best thing, the Houston Space Centre, to take part in the Space Exploration Educators Conference next year.
The experienced science, technology, engineering and maths teacher has been at the Te Mata School for 15 years.
She was nominated by parents for the prize, run through Genesis' school-gen programme.
Chatfield beat 284 other nominated teachers.
"It feels very surreal. I have to focus on my breathing, I can't quite believe it's happening," she told Hawke's Bay Today. "I am very, very excited."
She was humbled by the nomination and the award.
• New Zealand to get space mission control centre
• Premium - Millions of dollars being spent on space tech in NZ. Here's what's at stake
• NZ satellite project aims to avert space collisions
• Elon Musk sent a $100K Tesla Roadster to space a year ago. Where is it now?
"I have never won anything before, so this is pretty exciting.
"I am extremely grateful to the parents who nominated me, to the school and Genesis.
Principal Mike Bain had been amazing, she said.
"My husband teaches at the school and so he has released him so he can travel with me if he wants."
Chatfield will be one of two teachers from New Zealand headed to the conference in February.
The Space Centre in Houston, the conference venue, is the home of Nasa's famous mission control centre.
The eyes of the world were on it on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong reported from the lunar surface, "Houston, the Eagle has landed".
It's also Nasa's astronaut training base and is Houston's top attraction for international visitors.
Chatfield will experience a three-day learning adventure at the centre, picking up a new set of education resources and activities that use space as the context for learning across the curriculum.