Some people are forced to change careers in mid-life. Others do it because they want to.

And that decision has resulted in a Golden Apple Award for one Erie school teacher about to retire.

Holly Tucci is a third-grade teacher at Harding Elementary in the Erie School District. In mid-life, her career did a complete U-turn.

“Well I was a hairdresser for 20 years, and after 20 years I just wanted to switch from adults to children and teach children how to read. (So you went back to school?) I went back to college, graduated and came back to a second career in my 40s,” said Holly Tucci, Golden Apple winner.

Tucci said it was easy because she was ready and knew what she wanted to do, but what made her change lanes?

“Well I think it was probably the teachers that made a difference in my life that helped me learn how to read, do math and do all the things that made me a successful adult,” Tucci added.

This week’s student nominator is no longer in Tucci’s class but comes back often to visit her because she means so much to him….that and one other reason.

“My boy loves Slim Jims, so he comes every day he can and gets a Slim Jim off me,” said Tucci.

Leighton’s mom wrote that her son was bullied in school, and Mrs. Tucci handled it, making school a lot less scary.

“She doesn’t like people bullying. If anybody was having trouble in her room, she would help them,” said Leighton Hoens, student nominator.

“She took care of those things in her own way — very private and positive. Now, we have a little boy who loves school and loves his teacher,” said Dr. Mary Jo Melvin, Penn West University.