With unfaltering faith in her students, Shanna Peeples is inspiring high schoolers and earning the nation's respect as the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.
"You can help write the end of the story for every kid, and that's the most exciting and the most privileging thing about doing this job," Peeples said Monday in an interview only on "CBS This Morning."
Peeples, who was selected among hundreds of thousands of educators, teaches 11th grade English at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas. She said the first and best lesson she learned as a teacher was to create bonds with all students.
"I think that it's easy to forget that each person in front of you, they're coming with all of these different experiences, and really kind of different home lives, and it's really important to make a relationship with every kid you have," Peeples said.
She's taught for 12 years, and her impact remained with some of her students even years after they graduated.
"She sees past any front that a student may put on, helps them discover their dreams and their goals, and then pushes them to help them achieve them," former student Kayla Storrs said.
In turn, Peeples said her students shaped her to become the teacher she is today.
"So many of my students come from traumatic backgrounds," Peeples said. "I teach in a Title I school, which means that it's a high-poverty school, and a lot of my students are refugees from countries all over the world. And so knowing what they've come from makes me understand that I don't make promises easily, or that I'm very aware of what they're coming from, so I try to honor my word."
A disc jockey, pet sitter, medical assistant and reporter before her current occupation, she admitted she tried to resist becoming a teacher.
"I think I was afraid of it because I knew I was going to love it in a way that was going to be pretty consuming, and it was," Peeples said. "As a reporter, I covered schools, and the more I was in those classrooms, the more I wanted to stay in those classrooms. And so I thought, I just need to go ahead and get over myself and do this."
On Wednesday, Peeples will be honored at a White House ceremony and meet President Obama.
"First of all, I'm very grateful to him for even having the program there. That's amazing, because teachers don't get thanked enough," she said.
Peeples said teaching is an easy job to take for granted "because so many teachers are in their classroom every day with their head down taking care of business."
As Teacher of the Year, Peeples will travel around the country to represent and advocate for teachers. According to the Council of Chief State School Officers, the nonprofit organization that runs the program, Peeples hopes to focus on teaching methods that will reach students in poverty and those who have faced extreme challenges.