For more than six years, dealer Tamara Darvish has been driving from one of the Washington, D.C., area's wealthiest neighborhoods to one of its poorest to teach a high school class.
The 30-to-60-minute commute takes Darvish from her home in suburban Maryland to Ballou High School -- renowned for its marching band and its gang feuds -- in the Anacostia section of Washington.
On a March visit, she enters the grim, red-brick schoolhouse, passes through metal detectors, gestures to the District of Columbia policemen who work there full time, and weaves through students milling in the halls.
Darvish arrives at the auto shop in the back and enters a windowless room where 10 students bound from their seats and greet her with broad smiles.
"I feel like I can make a difference here," she said afterward. "If I can just change one kid a year, it's all worth it."
Darvish, 47, executive vice president of family-owned Darcars Automotive Group in suburban Maryland, teaches business and life skills at least once a month to 11th- and 12th-grade auto technology students.
Among her topics: financial literacy, team building, social media, letter writing, interviewing and public speaking.
Darvish also invites them to visit her family's Toyota store in Silver Spring each semester.
There the students rotate through the various departments -- including sales, finance, accounting, body shop, service and repairs -- to observe normal operations.
For some boys in Darvish's class, the highlight was seeing the collision repair shop.
"I liked seeing the before and after, where you couldn't even tell afterward that there was a nick in the car," said Rodney Stotts, a jovial, lanky 16-year-old who plays varsity basketball.
For one girl, the best part of the visit was the assistant service manager's office.
"I'm a people person, and I liked being a fly on the wall seeing how they dealt with customers," said Makala Hawkins, 16, a vegetarian who plays clarinet for the marching band.
Darvish volunteers in a $1.5 million, 10-year Toyota philanthropic program at Ballou that began in January 2005.
Toyota has renovated the equipment in Ballou's auto shop, said Barbara Williams-Skinner, a private contractor who oversees Toyota's program at the school.
The automaker also funds internships for the 50 or more students enrolled in the two-year auto technology elective and gives community-college scholarships to graduates, she said.
When Toyota invited Darvish to join the program from the start, she recalled her own college experience.
"I faced different challenges in school from these students, but there was that one person that took a personal interest in me and made me believe that I did have value," Darvish said.
That one person was Tim Nash, an economics professor at Northwood University in Midland, Mich.
"I was heading for a crash with a 1.23 grade-point average after my first term," she said. "He could have let me fail but really encouraged and mentored me instead."
Darvish said she ended up receiving a four-year baccalaureate degree from the business school in just two years and graduated with honors.
Now she takes on dozens of her students as interns and has hired about 50 of them over the years, mostly as technicians. About a dozen have risen to A or B technician status.
"They've worked out well because they know they'll be able to work their way through the ranks," Darvish said. "You start by feeding them a fish but teach them how to fish along the way."
In her Ballou class, Darvish offers incentives for students to improve their grades.
If the class improves its collective average from 68 in January to 69 this spring, she'll treat them to lunch. If a student gets a B in a course, she'll give him $25 from her own pocket. Those who improve to an A get $100.
At a March session, Darvish whets the students' scholastic appetites by asking them to decide where they'll go to lunch if they raise their collective grade.
The students can't immediately agree on a place.
"This is conflict, and that always happens in life," Darvish said, invoking her experience and business acumen.
"You have to come up with a decision so it's a win-win for everyone."