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Gresham woman trades squad car for classroom: 'I love working with kids'

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Twenty years ago, Kristy McKenzie traded her squad car for a classroom and has never looked back.

She had always wanted to give back to her community in Gresham, and she did so by becoming a Gresham Police cadet. But she had an "AHA!" moment and decided to go into teaching in hopes of reaching children at a young age and helping them avoid possible run-ins with the law in the future.

"I thought, how can I reach this population before they get there? Is there something I can do to prevent that?" McKenzie said.

And after 20 years of teaching, McKenzie says she still gives positive affirmations to her students, letting them know what they mean to her.

"I make an immediate connection with some kids, or sometimes you have to work towards it . If they don't have a good background or they are coming from a home life that is tough, I'm their person," she said.

She doesn't stray way from tough topics in hopes of helping those kids shape their future.

"When you're an adult, change it, do something different, make the world a better place," she said about her career path.

This fall, she's teaching fifth graders at Hogan Cedars Elementary School.

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