STOCKTON, CA - In a city of suffering, paralyzed by violence, teenagers are on the frontlines of facing harsh lessons head on; the same goes for August Elementary School 8th grade students who call Stockton home.
The difference is they have Elzira Saffold as their teacher.
"We reflect the best of what Stockton is and that starts right here in my classroom," Saffold said.
In between the literature, language arts and the warm hearted banter during history, there are smiles and teamwork, with a message of confidence, togetherness and giving back.
"I am sending these students out into the community to represent and be good ambassadors," Saffold said.
When Saffold isn't working, she takes foreign language classes, travels and gets her students involved in volunteer opportunities.
Inspired as a little girl by her parents, Saffold said she is a teacher by nature; one who is rarely behind her desk, but instead front and center with an approach that has worked for 23 years.
"To meet the students where they are, not where I am. I think that's what I am actually good at," Saffold explained.
"She's enthusiastic, we work in groups," 13-years-old Eduardo Arreola said. "She's always there and if you don't get it, she will take your questions."
Making a better future, for her city and for her students, that's why Saffold loves teaching. It's a commitment she made long ago and if you ask her, she wouldn't have it any other way
"My heart is here," Saffold said. "It's about giving back to Stockton, giving back to my community."