MESA, Ariz. - In 1998, Annette DeAnda moved to Tempe, Arizona to attend Arizona State University -- her dream, to go into the medical field, but her heart wanted something else.

"My mom was a teacher for 30 years, I grew up watching her teach," she said.

Annette is a second grade teacher at Brinton Elementary in east Mesa.

Her mother taught students in the poor neighborhoods of Algodones, Baja California. Annette is from Yuma, Arizona approximately five miles away from the neighboring border town and would frequently join her mother in the classrooms across the border.

"She is a natural, the way she teaches makes the kids feel so comfortable and that's why she is so successful with them" Pat Estes, Brinton Elementary principal, said. "I know her family, I've seen her grow from a teacher to a wife, to a mother and a very successful educator, I feel very motherly towards her."

In 2005, Annette was a recipient of the Rodel Exemplary Teacher Award -- it was given to her shortly after she began teaching.

"The biggest gift for me is coming to school every day and teaching my students, watching them learn and instilling in them that they will go to college because they are very special" Annette humbly said with a huge smile on her face. "It's always great to hear back from former students about how they are now in high school and close to making that dream of college come true."