Five weeks after Tanya's challenge, 54 of her students hit the books and improved their grades. As a reward, Tanya took them to a place they'd never been before—a marine biology cruise just a short ride away from the inner city.
"That was where a few of my students pulled me to the side and said, 'Miss Walters, I didn't realize there was a life outside my community,'" she says. "And that gave me the strength to know that I had a purpose in life."
Tanya says she decided to max out her credit cards, buy a bus and set out on a journey to expose teens to a world beyond their crime-ridden neighborhoods. "By having the opportunity to travel, now they're having the opportunity to dream, and they're able to see that there is a place out there for [them] somewhere. Not just [their] community," Tanya says.
In 2006, Tanya enlisted the help of fellow bus drivers and volunteers to start Godparents Youth Organization so she could offer her classroom on wheels to children all over America. In just a few years, Tanya has taken students to America's most important civil rights landmarks and museums across 26 states.
Tanya says understanding where they come from helps the kids envision brighter futures. "They're able to link history together, and I think that's what our youth need right now is to know that people came from all walks of background and [have] struggled for all different reasons."