LAS VEGAS -- Liberty High School is home to a teacher who's making a big impression with her peers and students. Just five years ago, Denise Tatum didn't speak a word of Chinese, but now, she's teaching it to others.
"It was just something intuitive that I just knew it was for me," said Tatum.
Tatum jumped on the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese back in 2006 when she was teaching English at Cheyenne High School. Her principal came up with the idea.
"I said to the staff, if anybody wants to learn Mandarin on our nickel and be a semester ahead of students, let me know," said Jeff Geihs, former Cheyenne High School Principal. Today, Geihs is the principal at Liberty High School where Tatum now teaches.
Tatum took Geihs up on the offer and started a bachelor's degree program at UNLV in 2006. During the program, she had the opportunity to travel to China five times which helped her become fluent.
Today, Denise teaches 89 students how to speak the language of the world's largest economy.
"She is very self-driven. She understands the importance of this for students and she understands how competitive it will make kids in this program," said Geihs.
Next month, Tatum will return to Hainan, China to attend a teaching conference where she will speak the native language of Mandarin Chinese.