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Thanks to Teachers: Karina Padilla

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This former dual-language teacher has held dual roles between teaching & the US National Guard! Now, she's focused on helping young students create a successful future for themselves.{ } (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

She comes from a military family and had her eye on a career in law enforcement.

In this week’s ‘Thanks to Teachers,’ News 13’s Karen Wynne shows us how a small woman made a big career change in hope of having the largest impact possible on children.

At barely five feet tall, Karina Padilla is a ball of energy in her Kindergarten classroom at Candler Elementary School.

Padilla is quick to admit this isn’t these kids’ parent’s kindergarten or the kindergarten she attended in Mexico. “There’s no naptime. We’re not sitting here coloring,” said Padilla.

Instead, these students are learning how to take apart and put together words and focus on the content of a story.

Padilla, who started out as a dual language teacher, often talks with her students in both English and Spanish, and always gives positive reinforcement.

“I want them to love coming to school,” says Padilla. “And, I want them to feel like they are successful whenever they’re here, so they will carry that on throughout the years to come.”

“She lets us play, and she lets us do iPads and she lets us do math. Math is fun,” says student Araya.

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This is Padilla’s Sixth year of teaching at Candler Elementary. She is also a Sargent first class in the National Guard, who has toured Iraq and traveled throughout the U-S. During part of her time in the guard, Padilla was a heavy equipment operator.

“Putting me on a loader, a dozier, all of those because of my height, it’s challenging, but that’s what I was doing for many years,” says Padilla.

Karina Padilla says she was wrapping up her criminal justice degree by observing juvenile criminal cases. That was when she knew education was the route she needed to take to have the biggest impact she could on children, so she decided to become a teacher.

“You can be that one teacher, you can be that one mentor.”

Doing the heavy lifting early in her students’ lives, to prepare them for a successful future in school.

Does your child have an amazing teacher? Nominate them to be featured in our Thanks to Teachers segment, click HERE to nominate them!