SAN ANTONIO – Every day is an adventure in Haydee Canela's class at Oak Meadow elementary School in the North East Independent School District.

"She's an awesome teacher," said third grader Alexis Bell.

Canela is an English as a Second language and third grade teacher.

"She's respectful to all of us," said Aidan Arias, a second grader.

"She is super nice to everyone," said second grader Landon Sugalsky.

"I wanted to do something that is more important than myself and make a difference because I had great teachers myself. I grew up very poor, we were migrant workers,” said Canela. "It's not an easy life we led but it taught me many lessons. It taught me perseverance and it taught me how important education was and learning. Education was important, my mother was a teacher in Mexico and she and my father stressed the importance of education and how it is the great equalizer."

It's a lesson she is now passing on to her young students.

"I don't want them to give up just because something looks challenging or difficult, I want them to want to hang in there and persevere," Canela said.

"When you think you're terrible and really bad at something and when she helps you, you feel like you're great and really good at it," Leia Roesch said.

"She's helped me with learning new strategies, new ways to do things," said third grader James Tavera.

"I have kids who can be anything. Look at me, where I come from. It was very powerful to have teachers who looked beyond my circumstances and saw that I had potential," Canela said.

For 21 years, Canela has been encouraging each student to reach his or her potential.

"Hopefully they'll remember Ms. Canela was a tough teacher but she wanted me to learn and she knew I could learn," Canela said.

"She does lessons that are very fun. She lets us know we can trust ourselves with doing hard work," said third grader Owen Crace.