"The school made just a phenomenal, a drastic change in his life and I'm just grateful," she said.
This spring, the "old" Taft changes too. It will be replaced with a gleaming, new $18.8 million high school. The school will feature new desks, new lockers, a new gym, and even a clock - that works.
The school will still have the same commitment.
"You have to look at these children like they're the most important part of your life," said Smith. "I can teach you how to be a good teacher, I can't teach you how to care."
A lesson in saving troubled schools.. one student at a time.