ABILENE, Texas -

An Austin Elementary School teacher who has helped her students overcome bullying is this week’s Teacher Tribute award winner.

Diane Cope has been teaching second graders at the school for three years, but also has a lengthy history at Thomas and Reagan elementary schools. Altogether, she has been teaching for 15 years.

Cope said she realized her passion for teaching when she was a second grader herself.

“I would pull the neighborhood kids together after school and I would make them sit down with me and teach them spelling and math,” Cope said.

But that is not all her teaching philosophy includes.

“I want them to learn how to treat people and how to be that person that can go out and feel good about who they are and be a good person in society,” Cope said.

That is a message that hits close to home for third graders Gracie Hopkins and Anna Cheek.

Cope was their teacher last year; yet, she had such an impact on the two girls that they chose to nominate Cope for Teacher Tribute this school year.

“I was talking about her the whole summer,” Hopkins said. “I already decided she was my favorite teacher out of all the teachers I've had.”

Both girls said Cope helped them regain their self-esteem following conflicts with their peers.

“She made it so I talked about my feelings and they stopped teasing me,” Hopkins said. “It made me feel much better after that.”

“One time out on the playground, this 5th grader came up and was pushing me around and I went and told [Cope] and she made me feel better about it,” Cheek said.

Cope said helping the girls get their confidence back was the least she could do.

“I want them to feel safe,” Cope said. “If you don't feel safe, you really can't learn…so if you can feel comfortable where you are, then your brain is going to be more open to taking in all the facts that they really need to learn.”

To nominate a teacher for the award, click here or pick up an application in your school’s front office.