CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA - She goes horseback riding and even skydives, but for Tara Larson her real adventure came when she decided to take on teaching teenagers at New San Juan High School.
Ten years ago, the Fort Bragg native traded waitressing and working as an ophthalmologist for a much different world. She opted for a career that seemed like the perfect choice, even as a child.
"I'd create tests and give them out to the kids in my neighborhood and correct them, so I knew that my calling was probably in the classroom," Larson explained.
Much of Larson's life now is spent teaching English and Theater Arts; and when she's not in the classroom, she's on the field. Regardless of what she's doing, her philosophy seems to be making a big impact on her students.
"We don't feel like we are going to get judged for anything. That's what I love so much about the class, it's like a free feeling," senior Suzanna Muradyan said.
Interactive lessons are a part of the approach. From the details of dramatic arts to the fundamentals of a flashmob, Larson's energy is contagious.
"These kids are collaborating cooperating communicating, they are doing everything that builds an individual to work together," Larson said.
It's that sense of team work that is breaking barriers.
"We are all a family, we care for each other and want the best for each other, you don't have that in your other classes," Sarah Pearson said.
Silva Muradyan says she's lucky to have had Larson over the last several years. She not only calls the outgoing brunette her favorite teacher, but looks up to her as a mentor.
"I call her my big me and she calls me her mini me, so its pretty cool," the high school junior explained.
Brandi Ambercrombie knows it's not often that teens hold classroom moments close, but the high school senior will never forget when Larson unexpectedly stepped in to make sure she was able to checkout a college.
"It really touched me that she would go out of her way and drive to San Diego, which is like 8 hours away," Ambercrombie said with a smile.
A commitment to her students is part of of the territory for Larson. A responsibility she truly enjoys and one she doesn't plan to give up anytime soon.
"Seeing them embrace every minute and want to learn want to perform want to succeed," Larson said. "It makes me feel proud and happy."