TAMPA (FOX 13) - Anita Ives is helping students grow into leaders while teaching them how to grow their own food.
Ives - affectionately known by students as Ms. Nita - has been a guidance counselor at Academy Prep Middle School since it opened in 2003.
"When children have something to say, it is very important to me," Ms. Nita said. "I don't poo-poo it off or ignore it. I'm giving them my 100-percent, undivided attention."
Her hard work and dedication helped her win the Bisk Award, an honor given to educators who inspire future leaders. Her prize for winning the award is scholarship for online classes at Notre Dame.
"Her commitment to growing future leaders - and what better metaphor than her garden - and teaching them how to nourish life and the best soil for growing leaders is education," Michael Bisk of Bisk Education said.
Students are blossoming under her strong leadership skills and encouragement.
"She's had a big impact on me because, if it wasn't for her, I don't know if I would actually still be at this school," student Amiri Thomas explained.
Student Ja'mesha Cooper added, "in ways, I felt like giving up on this school because I felt like it was too hard mentally, and she was there to help me and give me advice."
"I think it is trust and it's respect in our conversation that makes me very successful in talking to the kids," Ms. Nita said. "Its just a very humbling experience, but I am honored and I am grateful."