CARMICHAEL, CA - Turn knowledge into action and have a voice. It's a lesson elementary school teacher Nicki Garcia wants her students to remember.
Garcia always knew she belonged in a classroom. The former nanny's nurturing instinct guided her right into her dream career seven years ago.
"Ever since I was in third grade, I enjoyed passing out papers and writing on the chalkboard, but as I got older I knew I wanted to play a very important role in these kids lives," said Garcia.
She teaches fourth and fifth graders in the International Baccalaureate program at Thomas Kelly Elementary School in Carmichael. The program embraces the differences in cultures and strives to teach students understanding and respect.
"They (her students) are really understanding the value of working ... working for money, not just having it handed to you," Garcia said. "My kids actually pay rent for their desk and their chairs, they have a checking account, they know how to write checks."
They are life lessons her students enjoy. From presentations about poverty, health care and the homeless, to fundraisers and donating to a cause, Garcia's students say they like to come to school.
"She teaches us how to do PowerPoint, things no one else knows," fourth-grader Nathan Stewart said with excitement.
"We can actually help them (those less fortunate) by giving websites to donate to ... I like being able to help other people in need," said another student.
Garcia's words of encouragement, compassion and care are contagious, giving her students a foundation she hopes they will never forget.
"She's an amazing teacher, one of the best teachers I've had," said Victoria Manasyan, a fifth grader.
By Gina Villarreal