FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --After serving students for 13 years at Edison High School, a local teacher is gearing up for a deployment overseas for the Army National Guard.
Gabriela Ibarra was shocked to find her students in her AP Spanish Literature class surprised her with a party.
"It was emotional," she said. "It was just beautiful, they're amazing kids."
The celebration was in appreciation of her dedication to her students and a touching goodbye as she prepares to deploy to Kuwait this summer, serving with the Army National Guard.
"I think it's really sad that she has to do what she has to do, but, at the same time, I'm really proud she's willing to defend our country," student Noeh Romero said.
Ibarra served six years with the Army National Guard right after high school to help put her through school.
Several years later she decided to re-enlist after her husband was hit by a drunk driver causing severe injuries.
The army national guard helped pay for medical expenses and get them out of debt. Since 2005, she's balanced both teaching and military duties.
"I decided to stay on and make a career and do my 20 years," Ibarra said. "And it just so happens that they're going to deploy my unit so it's my turn to go."
Her deployment was originally deferred several times after she gave birth to her son, now 10, because of a battle with thyroid cancer. Ibarra is now in remission.
"We just wanted to do something special for Ibarra because she's done so much for us especially for me I've known her since sophomore year," student Ivette Marquez said. "And whenever I have a problem I know I can count on her. She's not only a teacher she's a mother figure to not only myself but to so many other students here."
"I feel that it's not every day you come across someone like her that's willing to balance out everything that she does in her life and a large portion of her time is devoted to her students," Romero said.
Her students say they just want to make sure Ibarra knows she's appreciated.
Ibarra's deployment will last a year, and she's looking forward to coming back and teaching in this classroom again.