HIGH POINT, N.C. -- If it was possible to fit all of Allen Jay Elementary School's teachers and students into the cafetorium, they would have gladly done so.
According to Principal Carla Florres-Ballesteros, that's how much everyone loved Meghan White.
"She was worried about the equity of her students, especially the most needed students," Florres-Ballesteros said. "She went above and beyond to develop relationships with her students and the parents to make sure the needs of the students were met."
White was a fourth-grade teacher at Allen Jay Elementary for eight years. Cynde McLaughlin is White's mother. McLaughlin said her daughter made a big impression with her students and fellow teachers.
"She was just all about the fun and the joy and celebration," McLaughlin said. "She loved these kids. She loved them so much."
White was always thinking about her students and school during a time when it would have been easy to think about herself. For two years, White battled breast cancer. In September, White died.
Days later, she received one of five "Real Teacher of the Year" awards. The nationwide contest was sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. During summer online voting, White got the most votes. The award comes with a $10,000 check. McLaughlin said her daughter would have enjoyed receiving the prize.
"We broke down and cried," McLaughlin said. "It's such a hard time because this would have meant so much to her. To have this technology for her school."
The $10,000 check will help Allen Jay Elementary upgrade their computer lab. Florres-Ballesteros said the school chose the computer lab because an improved computer lab will help all students.
"Ms. White believed in treating all students equally so her legacy will live on in this classroom. The money will go toward upgrading the computer lab, a room all students will benefit from," Florres-Ballesteros said.
Laura Westwood is White's cousin. The two grew up together and she saw the early signs that White wanted to be a teacher. Westwood said an upgraded computer lab and renaming the room after her cousin is a fitting tribute to a teacher that wanted the best from all her students.
"Meghan's legacy will live on and when these kids go to the computer room, they will see her name and picture and they will feel her love and know her story," she said.
In honor of White, Rack Room Shoes will place a plaque and White's portrait in the computer lab.