Kayla Corbin has always known she wanted to help people. A college internship with the Atlanta Police Department in the Special Victims Unit led her to sign up for a life of service as a police officer.
"I knew I wanted to be there for people when they had no one else because people have done that for me," Officer Corbin explained.
Officer Corbin started her police career in Clayton County, but serving the community in uniform was not enough for her. She wanted to help more.
"I got tired of meeting teens on the street," Officer Corbin revealed. "If I'm meeting you, it is in the worst moment of your life; whether you're calling me because someone's died or you have made a poor choice, that is the worst moment of your life. I got tired of meeting teens in those moments, and I wanted to find a way to meet them in a different place."
Her solution—to become a teacher.
A Cobb educator and fellow police officer turned her on to an open position at Osborne High School. Although she loved policing, she jumped at the opportunity to interview for the teaching position.
Now, by day, Officer Corbin supports students as Osborne's public safety teacher. When the school doors are closed, Officer Corbin puts away her lesson plans and slips on her uniform to police the streets of Powder Springs part-time.
Officer Corbin, or Ms. Corbin as she is known at school, has only served as a teacher at Osborne for a few years, but the impact she is making may last a lifetime for her students.
Last year, Ms. Corbin helped Osborne launch the school's firefighting pathway, a two-year program that trains students as firefighters. After completing Ms. Corbin's classes, the students could potentially graduate high school on a Friday and start serving their community on Monday as a firefighter.
Osborne senior Juan is one of her students who is planning to sign on as a firefighter after graduation.
"Meeting somebody like her and just seeing her personality and getting details about [the] careers persuaded me and made me comfortable with being a firefighter," Juan revealed.
Juan also credits the police officer turned educator for motivating him to keep pushing through the obstacles, and he is not alone.
Fellow Osborne student Rubi recalls one of her favorite class memories being when Ms. Corbin encouraged her to complete one of the intense timed firefighting training exercises.
"When she was pushing me to do it and yelling at me to keep going, that's really my favorite memory," the Osborne junior explained. "We're all tired, we're hurting, but we still want to keep pushing at it."
When Rubi finished that memorable day, thanks to the encouragement of her teacher, she felt proud she accomplished something others could not.
“[Ms. Corbin] does a lot for us, and we are really thankful. She does two jobs and still comes back, and she's ready to help us out," Rubi added.
Whether it is through serving as a police officer, teacher, or foster parent, Ms. Corbin's life revolves around helping others. Ms. Corbin believes her experience on the police force and the training she receives helps her in the classroom. Her students agree.
"It's one thing for a teacher to tell you and teach you about something that they've just learned about and sat and watched the screen and PowerPoint; they did the exact same thing that I did. It's another thing to have been in the field and have that experience every single day," explained Osborne junior Naila, who has taken multiple classes with Ms. Corbin.
Knowing their teacher also serves as a police officer is inspiring to her students.
"She's putting her life on the line for all of us, and she's protecting our community, and then she comes over here, and she teaches us about it," Rubi noted.
For Rubi, her teacher also serves as evidence that a woman can do anything.
"She gives us a voice," Rubi added.
No matter what kind of day Ms. Corbin has while policing, she leaves it at home with her uniform.
"She doesn't let it affect her. She comes [to school] even after she had a rough day. She'll come, and she'll still help us out," Rubi said.
In fact, her students point to Ms. Corbin as the one who supports them when they are having a rough day.
"Any time that I'm having a bad day, [I can] go to talk to Ms. Corbin about it," shared Naila.
Juan goes further when explaining his teacher's positive impact on him and his classmates.
"She's one of the best mentors you have in life," Juan declared.
The students feel safer having Ms. Corbin as a teacher, not just because of her experience as a police officer but also because they know they can rely on her.
"She's always there for us. If anything happened to us, she would run; she'd be the first one there," Rubi added.
There is a reason why Ms. Corbin is able to reach the Osborne teens. The students, who describe the Osborne Public Safety teacher as caring, feel she is open to them, no matter their background, no matter their story, and no matter if they make a mistake.
"She doesn't judge you," Rubi declared.
Instead, the Osborne teacher pushes her students to be their greatest selves. She gives them confidence and a voice. She teaches them responsibility. She holds them accountable. She wants the students to believe in themselves.
"I didn't grow up in the best background, and what I found is that my students can relate to that. I want to instill in them, no matter where they go, no matter what they do, you can truly do anything you set your mind to. You just have to work for it," the Osborne educator said.
Ms. Corbin pushes her students not to let poor choices define them.
"We all make poor choices. That doesn't mean that that is who you are, nor is that who you are in this school," explained the Cobb educator. "These are some of the most amazing teenagers that I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world."
Because of how Ms. Corbin cares for her students and, in their words, is "real" with them, the Osborne students are more open to learning what she is teaching. Some of her students were hesitant to enroll in a public safety course but ended up walking away with a different attitude.
Ms. Corbin revealed that some of her students will tell her, "' We respect you as a person and as a police officer, and you have opened our eyes to what policing really is. It's not just the things that we see every day in the media. You show us love and compassion, and we know that you would do that whether you're in uniform or out of uniform.'"
Sometimes, her students seek her out when she is in uniform and on the job as a police officer. They want to take pictures with their mentor, their teacher, or, as Naila describes her, a second mom.
No matter if she is helping the students suit up as firefighters, practice CPR, or study criminal justice, the police officer turned educator loves her job and her students.
"I have so many special moments with my students that there's not just one favorite moment that I can give to you because every day with them for me is a special moment," Ms. Corbin said. "I love my students; I love my classroom. I don't work a day here because I genuinely love what I do."
The Osborne educator is not planning on hanging up her uniform anytime soon. She loves both careers. However, her main goal is to stay at Osborne for as many years as possible.
"I love being in Cobb. I wouldn't go anywhere else. I love being a teacher, specifically at Osborne. I love the population here," Ms. Corbin shared. "These kids have my heart."