"Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color. 'I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings,' she says. 'More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too.'Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. 'That moment was life-changing for me,' she recalls. 'It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year.'"
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