DUMONT, NJ (CBS Local) Genevieve Via Cava was a special education teacher in New Jersey for years before passing away in 2011. Before she died, the educator made a promise to give her school a million dollars one day. Via Cava kept that promise and a new scholarship has just been created with her amazing gift.

“I thought it was a joke, but then we got the paperwork,” Superintendent Emanuele Triggiano of the Dumont school district said, via NorthJersey.com.

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Mrs. Via Cava left the generous donation in her will after years of careful saving. “The Great Depression really left a mark on her,” close friend and executor of Via Cava’s will, Richard Jablonski said.

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The New Jersey teacher did not have children of her own and her husband reportedly passed away in 1998. “She was an amazing woman who could light up a room just by walking in,” Jablonski added.

Via Cava’s warmth didn’t stop once her students graduated. Friends say the educator was known for helping former students find jobs in the community, sometimes even years after they left high school.

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Via Cava’s life savings has now been turned into a $25,000 scholarship, which will help one special education student with the cost of going to college or a trade school each year. Business Administrator Kevin Cartotto told reporters that the money will stay in a fund that generates interest, so the scholarship can continue to help students for several years.