literacy specialist and Abraham Lincoln fan Leslie Shapiro's response to a surprise Thursday was "You have no idea what this means to me."
"Yes we do," a group of her colleagues, gathered in the school library, replied.
Shapiro is among 50 Kindergarten to grade 12 educators -- three from Massachusetts -- receiving Horace Mann-Abraham Lincoln Fellowships to study the 16th president during a five-day institute at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
The fellowship funds round-trip transportation, lodging and most meals, according to a Horace Mann press release.
"I've loved studying Lincoln all of my life," Shapiro said during Thursday's ceremony.
"Last year, I applied for this, and I did not get chosen, and I was very disappointed.
"I wasn't going to apply this year. At the last minute, I decided, 'I'll try again, but this is it. If I don't make it, then it's not meant to be.'"
This year, Shapiro was among 10 applicants chosen "via Facebook voting, based on a photo and response to an essay question," according to the press release.
"The remaining Facebook entries and entries submitted via the Horace Mann web site were judged; judges were other educators," the release states.
"Fellows will get behind-the-scenes knowledge of the library and museum and enjoy visits to other historical sites -- New Salem, Lincoln's home, Lincoln's tomb, and the Old State Capitol. Fellows will also hear from experts on Lincoln's life and the Civil War era. Past topics have included a look at Lincoln the lawyer, Lincoln as president, political cartoons in the classroom, Civil War medical practices, and 'Ghosts of the Library.'"