KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Poinciana High School English teacher Joe Malfara always puts his students first.

"Everything I do is just for them because they deserve a chance. They deserve a shot," Malfara said.

Malfara is passionate about teaching and reaching each student.

"I got into teaching because originally I thought it was a way to stay connected to athletics — like so many other former athletes — and that was one of the big reasons why,” he said.

"Collegiately, I played Division I baseball at Ashland University up in Ohio. I was a pitcher there," he said.

These days, Malfara wants to see his students score. He says collaboration in his classroom is just one of several teaching methods he practices.

"Kids learn most when they're learning from each other, not from me," Malfara said. "I kind of push them out of the nest, and if they're about to go 'splat,' I'm going to swoop in and make sure they don't but to see how much they can actually fly on their own," he said.

Malfara's students say they appreciate being given the room to spread their wings to find their purpose.

"We interact with each other. We share ideas. We make new ideas. It's just completely different," student Yassine Belfkih said.