PEORIA, Ill. -- As the school counselor, Marlene Leitch normally deals with her students' emotions. This time, it was her own.
Mrs. Leitch is also the 5th grade life skills teacher at Quest Charter Academy.
She teaches everything from health and safety to teamwork.
"The most important thing that our students learn is to listen to other people and to express their opinions politely," said Leitch, "that you can disagree with a person, but you don't have to be mean to them."
That includes the social skills to combat bullying.
"She teaches us how to respect each and every student and do all the core values: respect, responsibility, effort, and encouragement," said Daveon Barnett, a 5th grader in Mrs. Leitch's life skills class.
"I've learned that even if you don't want to get involved with bullying, you need to," said Alexis Simpson, also a 5th grader in Leitch's class. "Even if it's not your problem, you need to help, especially if it's your friend or someone you don't want to get hurt."
Mrs. Leitch says the One Class at a Time grant will help fund more hands-on teaching tools and field trips to the Hult Health Education Center.
She says all these lessons will go a long way outside the classroom, and that's what fuels her passion for the job.
"You know, I've been in education for like 40 years, and, you know, you're not in education because of thousand dollar checks," said Leitch. "You're in education, because you have a chance to impact the future, so that's why I'm crying."