BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - A Broken Arrow science teacher is the state's "teacher of the year."

The announcement came at the state fair in Oklahoma City.

The parade started when she arrived home.

A welcome home party took place Tuesday at the high school where Donna Gradel has taught 21 years, an innovative teacher now getting the state's top honor.

The police escorted the new teacher of the year down Main Street, and staff members from the district waved as she passed by, the town's newest celebrity.

Gradel has 29 years experience teaching science, most of that is in Broken Arrow, where she's gained attention as an inspirational figure for students.

Last year, Gradel was planting milkweed with her class to attract Monarch butterflies.

"It's amazing the to think something as simple as planting milkweed could actually help save a species," Gradel. 

And her innovative, very hands-on teaching style, got the attention of judges who selected her from a dozen finalists.

At the ceremony at the Oklahoma City State Fair, the superintendent said she's an exceptional teacher.

"Our teachers change their classroom and their students every day, and that's what Donna does," said BA Superintendent Dr. Janet Dunlop. 

Gradel's return to the high school came after classes ended for the day, but she said she's ready to get back to her students.

Gradel will stay in her classroom through the end of the year, then she's off for a year as she represents this district and the state as teacher of the year.