KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Project GRAD scholar from the Class of 2012 at Fulton High School has just been named Teacher of the Year at her alma mater.

That’s the thing about Project GRAD. So many kids who succeed come back, to give back.

Tiffany Nelson teaches a Comprehensive Development Class at Fulton. She has only been there for two years and was already voted Teacher of the Year by her peers.

What is it about special education that lights her up?

“I think it’s my passion for it,” she said. “I had it when I was here as a student. I was a peer tutor in this classroom, this exact classroom, actually.”

Nelson realized her heart was with special education students after she had started on a different career track.

“I went to college and thought, ‘I’m going to be a nurse. I’m going to make great money, that’s what I’m going to do.’ And I was three years in and I was like, tugging on my heartstrings, I’ve got to do what I want to do and make a difference in those lives.”

She went back to school, graduated from Carson-Newman University, first teaching on the elementary school level, and now happy to be back at Fulton.

Nelson thanks Project GRAD for helping her along the way.

“It’s really important and we really appreciate it. It’s a great opportunity for these kids to get to go to college and to get that extra boost,” said Nelson.