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Forty-five years after the "I Have a Dream" speech, ordinary citizens across the country are giving it all they've got to keep Dr. King's vision for a better future alive—including a Los Angeles bus driver named Tanya.

"About eight years ago, I was driving a rough route," she says. "Most of the kids on my bus were known for getting suspended, kicked out of school."

Recognizing their daily struggle, Tanya decided to try a special approach. "I learned to speak to my students everyday," she says. "I learned to smile at them, I learned to give them a hug if they needed a hug. I learned to give them encouragement, and from that I built trust."

With each day, Tanya became more and more invested in the future of her students. "I asked each one of them to show me their report card. And I was shocked to find out the majority of my students were failing," she says. "I said, 'How is it that I'm bringing you to school everyday and still you're failing? I don't understand.' I decided to challenge each student to bring up their grades."
FROM: The Dream Lives: A Martin Luther King Day Special
Published on March 14, 2008