MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tiffany Willis teaches second grade at Lucy Craft Laney Community School on the north side of Minneapolis. Even though her students may be more economically disadvantaged, she makes sure each is challenged to their fullest.

It’s what makes Willis an Excellent Educator.

“They are such a fun group of kids, they are really sweet,” Willis said.

This is the second year Willis has had this group of students. As part of Lucy Laney’s curriculum, she also taught them as first graders.

“It’s been so rewarding, yeah they’ve really put in the work,” she said. But so has Willis, who is known for writing countless grants for classroom materials.

“This rug that were standing on is what I wrote a grant for, this easel I wrote a grant for, bookshelves, I’m always looking for ways to provide the best,” she said.

The Lakeville native embraces the challenge of working at Lucy Laney, where more than 90 percent of students receive free or reduced price lunch.

“I’ve done a lot of reading up outside of school because I’m not from the same environment that my kids come from so I think being informed and educating yourself on their realities of where they come from so I can stay relevant with what they need,” she said.

Willis is currently pursuing a master’s degree in special education. She wants to stay in the classroom but desires to obtain the skill set to help serve all of her students’ needs.