CARMICHAEL, CA - Sixth graders at Mary Deterding Elementary School in Carmichael didn't know what to expect when they walked into Terry Minton's class for the first time, but it didn't take long for the uncertainty to turn into a sense of comfort.

"He loves making jokes and is always laughing," sixth grader Isabella Newcomb said.

Minton never expected his life would take an unexpected turn. What was once a rigorous career filled with corporate meetings 10 years ago, was replaced with curriculum and campfire songs.

"I can remember when my kids were in school and I was in my three-piece suit and listening to teachers talk about their evaluations, I remember my impressions of teaching and most of them were wrong, " said Minton, who was once a banker.

Surrounded by the energy of his class, made up of 22 girls and five boys, Minton kneeled down in his yellow cabana shirt offering words of encouragement to the children who have come to value his insight.

"That's an awesome idea, that will work out very well," Minton said in a calming voice.

His warm demeanor and appreciation for teaching is coupled with a realistic approach, one his students have come to enjoy.

Ellery Schlingmann loves math and said Minton has found a way to keep his lessons challenging without leaving anyone out.

"He teaches it in a way that everyone can learn it in their own way," Schlingmann said.

"If I teach procedural math, they will have to memorize the formula, but if I can teach them to discover what the formula means then they know what it is," Minton explained.

It's those memorable moments that has Minton saying teaching is the best decision he's ever made, one he doesn't plan on giving up anytime soon.

"It's a tremendous job, absolutely rewarding, no question," Minton said.

By Gina Villarreal,