ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Jessica Zellers, Athens Area High School Life Skills Teacher, shared what sparked her drive to teach.

“So when I was in third grade, I just fell in love with my third grade teacher; she took us on nature walks and just did fun things like that with us,” said Zeller.

She’s been a support to her students helping them to learn life skills like janitorial tasks, and household chores.

“We teach daily living, community, and job skills to our students here in the life skills setting,” said Zellers. “I love what I teach,” she added. “My students have to work harder than other students to be able to be at that same level as others,” Zellers said.

Her students have a different way of learning, putting them in a league of their own.

“My students are really inspiring, in order to achieve their goals they have to work harder than anyone else because they do have intellectual disabilities, so they do have other obstacles that they sometimes have to go through in order to achieve their goals, so it’s really inspiring to see them,” said Zellers.

Zellers said through funding, they’ve created a school store that allows students to continue developing their life skills by handling money, interacting with customers, and eating snacks along the way.

“My students started volunteering at Chop which is a local food bank, and I absolutely loved the opportunities that they had there,” said Zellers. “I was tryna think of some other on the job training skills that we could teach them,” she added.