Math teachers and Los Angeles seem to have an odd relationship. Many folks remember the movie “Stand Up & Deliver,” which provided a Hollywood version of Jaime Escalante’s challenges of teaching math to inner city students and helping them realize more in their education. As it turns out, Julio Castro, another math teacher in the same city years later, made just as much of an impression on his students. While it’s not likely that Castro’s story will turn into a blockbuster movie, he will definitely be remembered class after class for his influence on helping students learn math.
His life is a definition of discipline. Julio Castro gets up every day at 4:30am in the morning, well before the sun comes up, then he makes his way on a basic push scooter to the Metrolink after navigating six miles of sidewalk, and then another mile to the high school after the train stops. And, by the crack of dawn, Castro was at work, doing his job, getting ready for the first class of the day by 8am. However, the first day of school this year was going to be different. Castro just didn’t know it yet.
At 31, the first day of school for 2022 was going to be like every other; a typical teacher introduction, a blurb about what he did over the summer, and then a brief description of which classes Castro was going to cover for the 2022-23 year. While things droned on, Castro had no idea what dozens upon dozens of students had been up to for weeks. Instead of spending the summer lounging, these Los Angeles high school students had been working on fundraising. They had managed to pull together $13,000 to help their high school math teacher get his own working car. The goal was a blue Mazda, something that Castro had mentioned to one of his students how much he liked.
The entire effort had been started much earlier in the year, but it was all kept under wraps. At first, everything seemed pretty crazy and on the wrong side of impossible. However, because of how much of an impact Castro had had on many of the students, they remained committed to making something good happen for him. Everyday he tootled down sideways, to and from the Metrolink, to teach them. Every day, he used public transit, rain or shine, and got them through math, algebra, trig, calculus and all. The man deserved more than just a thanks at the end of the school year.
Even when he was brought into the gym, Castro was completely duped in some kind of teacher appreciation event, giving the teacher basic gift cards as combined thank you’s from the students. So when his name was called and Castro went to the podium, it didn’t dawn on the math teacher what was going on and why he was being recorded on video and phones. However, Castro had to wait for a presentation first. The students most affected by Castro had made a video in which they talked about and described how much of an impact the math teacher had had on them. Then, the students were dismissed, only to form a human path for Castro to find his way to the blue Mazda sitting outside waiting for him. By this point, the math teacher was entirely confused.
Out of the gym Castro went and realized he had to walk down the tunnel. Each step was more and more of a surprise, with confetti pops and cheering. He had no idea what was going on. And then Castro found himself in front of the blue Mazda. It was a sedan, navy blue, and with black leather seats, the same style and features he had said he wanted years earlier. And Castro’s face turned into a big smile as he was floored and hugged by the students he had been so dedicated to as a teacher. With some additional help matching the students’ fundraising, they not only got Castro the car, but also a year’s worth of fuel and insurance as well. It all added up to a gift of $30,000 approximately.
There wasn’t a whole lot of math Castro had to do with his new gift. He was immensely thankful. More importantly, he was fundamentally impressed by how many lives the math teacher had touched.
Missing Hiker Spotted By Train Passenger
Day Trip Turns Into Two-Day Trip
A young woman hiking in Colorado found herself completely unprepared when she fell down a 90-foot cliff, becoming badly injured. A New Mexico native, the hiker left the trail in search of better photo opportunities. While trying to take pictures of the beautiful scenery, she lost her footing and could not prevent her accident. Her injuries included a broken leg and possible concussion, and she may have been unconscious for several hours. Because she only planned to be out during the day, the hiker only had enough supplies to last for a short time. Her clothes were suitable for a day trip, but not warm enough for nights in the area.
Injured Hiker Starts by Helping Herself
In her 20s, the hiker survived for two days with her injuries, but it is unknown how much longer she could have gone on without food, water, or medical aid. Because of her will to live, she managed to crawl to an area where she was more likely to be visible to passing travelers. The Animas River was cold and moving quickly, but the injured hiker managed to make it close to the riverbank. On the other side of the river, she could hear and see the train passing.
Train Passenger Becomes Unlikely Hero
Luckily for the injured hiker, at least one of the passing trains was a passenger train. One of the passengers was enjoying the view through the area and paying attention to the landscape, probably hoping for interesting sights and animal spotting. There is no doubt that she was surprised to see a human hand waving for help, but she did what all heroes do and acted immediately. The woman who spotted the injured hiker immediately notified the train officials so that they could notify the train company and find a train that could stop and see what was going on with the person waving.
The engineer and fireman on the next train were a married couple who knew how to help injured people in emergencies. Nick and Kylah Breeden were on the next passing train, and they willingly stopped to help. Over 300 passengers waited while the couple checked out the situation, and Kylah stayed behind when it became clear that the hiker could not be transported across the river without extra help.
Kylah is a trained paramedic and she stayed with the hiker while waiting for help. The hiker needed to be transported across the river on a backboard because of her injuries. Then a gurney took her to a waiting helecopter.
If not for the actions of all those people, the hiker would doubtless have stayed alone without help. Many of the people who helped did so as part of their jobs, but they went above and beyond, such as when Kylah Breeden stayed overnight with the hiker while waiting for help. But none of it would have been possible if the train passenger simply wanting to enjoy the scenery didn’t notice and immediately find help.
Doing a Critical Job Even When Pregnant
Firefighters make it their life mission to save people and property. So, it’s fairly challenging for them to turn off that mentality, even when they know they should be off the clock. That was the case for one Maryland fire ground pounder who has been a firefighter much of her adult life.
At 30, Megan Warfield was dealing with contractions and expecting to have a baby in a matter of hours or a day. However, working through the sensations while being driven as a passenger, she ended up in a multiple car accident. Warfield was fine, a fender-bender at most for the vehicle she was in. So, her firefighter training kicked in, and she began helping direct traffic away from the accident itself. However, as Warfield surveyed the situation, she realized someone was trapped inside one of the cars turned upside down by the event.
Not even thinking about herself or the contractions, Warfield wiggled into the overturned car to stabilize the victim and prevent the person from getting injured further. Knowing it’s a common situation for folks to go into shock, get dropped and land on their head and knock or similar, stabilization was key in the first moments of an accident to protect the victim. As regular paramedics flooded in minutes later and took over, Warfield herself realized she needed to get to a hospital as well, just in case something happened to her baby from the accident. As it turned out, after being admitted, the hospital staff confirmed she was fully in labor and her baby was out of position thanks to the accident motion.
Being sideways versus upside down is a serious issue, but Warfield hadn’t even noticed being entirely in firefighter mode during the event. So, no surprise, when things settled the cramps really started kicking in, and she knew her baby was on the way. Less than a day later, Warfield was a new mom, giving birth to her third child on October 4. With a brand-new daughter, Charlotte, Warfield finally relented and completely gave in to relaxing and staying off the clock for a while as a firefighter.
The accident was no small one either. A total of six people were moved by ambulance to local hospitals, and everyone fully recovered after the fact. Warfield’s stations gave big kudos, not just for the service the pregnant firefighter provided at the scene, but congratulations on her new child as well. The whole story and details got repeated airtime on her fire department’s social media account as well as the local news circuit as well. Sure enough, the story got picked up nationally, and the TODAY show interviewed Warfield as well afterwards.
It’s not surprising Warfield jumped into the fray. She had been put on light duty due to her pregnancy and had spent most of her working days up to the day of delivery managing administrative functions for her fire department and related paperwork. She herself admits she was a bit stir-crazy and wanted to get back on the engine fire line.
Now that Charlotte is taken care of and growing, it won’t be surprising to see Warfield out at vehicle accidents and local fires again doing what she does best as a firefighter.
Ukrainian Lion Rescue by the Dozen
War comes with a lot of different costs, and one that gets less fanfare and almost becomes invisible is what happens to animals in zoos affected by conflicts. Some of the more recent examples have been seen in Iraq, but the latest case is now in Ukraine.
Odessa is a well-known coastal city, and it is also home to the Bio Park Zoo. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian conflict and Russian invasion has made it literally impossible to operate the local zoo facility safely, and an entire pride of lions has had to be moved as a result. The large felines were quickly moved out of the conflict zone via convoy early on and were temporarily being housed in Romania back in May. Unfortunately, conditions have made it impossible to return to their home zoo, and now that lions have been relocated to the U.S. after a significant migration effort.
Granted an emergency permit, almost a dozen lions were granted approval to be moved into the U.S., specifically to an animal sanctuary in Colorado. The Wild Animal Refuge engaged and agreed to take seven adults and two cubs, while the remainder were moved to South Africa, both being distant locations from the conflict that caused their move in the first place. The combination has proven to be the largest transport of a group of lions in history, an unfortunately additional bookmark in the history books caused by war.
The above said, and despite the cause, the big win is that the lions are safe and out of harm’s way now, which has not always been the case for other zoo animals caught in conflict zones. Interestingly, a modern age problem, zoo animals and similar in earlier decades were considered simply victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the nineteenth century and early twentieth, such situations ended tragically with the zoo animals having to be put down versus risk them getting loose or killed by stray artillery and fire. However, today, a lot more can be done, literally moving the animals in a day halfway around the world.
The effort takes a tremendous amount of cooperation from different groups, governments, agencies and companies, but the payoff is tremendous for the animals involved, as well as the bigger goal of reducing the damage of war and secondary costs. Not everything can be saved, but when folks can come together and pull off a project like this for the Ukrainian lions saved, it gives everyone else hope for better days.
US Couple Saves Babies From Fire While on Barcelona Vacation
A United States couple are being celebrated as heroes after they saved infants from a raging fire in a Spanish daycare. Doran Smith and David Squillante, who married two years ago, had to wait to take their honeymoon due the COVID-19 pandemic; however, they finally were able tour Barcelona. While on a walk enjoying views of a picturesque park, the pair saw black smoke emanating from what turned out to be an inferno at a local daycare.
“As I was watching the women leave, I suddenly noticed that the door they had just exited was on fire,” Smith told WJAR reporter Katie Benoit. “I was in disbelief and said, ‘Oh my god, there’s a fire.'”
After Smith notified everyone of the fire, Squillante recalls that his “instincts kicked in.” The oblivious newlywed ran into to building without any hesitations, not knowing that he was running into a nursery with sleeping infants.
“I was looking at 15-20 sleeping babies and lining them up in the cribs,” Squillante told Benoit.
Squillante stated that none of the employees at the nursery knew English.
The couple helped save the babies by rapidly moving all of the young children out of the nursery as smoke from an electrical fire filled the space, according to Benoit’s report.
“We were just taking cribs with a few kids in them and rolling them across the street to the high school lobby,” Smith explained.
Squillante told Benoit that, although the heroic efforts lasted around 10 minutes, it felt like it was over in an “instant.”
“It turned out okay in the end,” Squillante said.
After Barcelona fire crews put out the blaze and calmed the scene, the couple said they walked to the park as if it were any other day.
The couple’s honeymoon tale is now unique and heroic. Benoit noted in her report that it wasn’t a normal day.
Barcelona is located in the Catalonia region of Spain. Catalonia is a renowned tourist destination. According to the U.S. Department of State, over 18 million American citizens visit Spain each year.
Doran Smith and David Squillante are from Bristol, which is part of Rhode Island’s East Bay region
After Seven Hours Trapped in a Quarry, a Dog Was Rescued by Dartmoor Firefighters
A dog named Jess became stuck in an old quarry in Dartmoor – an upland area in England – after she ran down a hole and several granite boulders collapsed over it. Firefighters and police joined members of the Devon Cave Rescue Organization (DCRO) to help reunify her with her owner shortly after 23:30 BST on Thursday.
The DCRO is a voluntary organization that specializes in rescuing animals from difficult situations. The organization is known for their delicate and complicated rescues, as was the case with Jess.
Tara Beacroft, from the DCRO, described the operation as being “like trying to deconstruct a Jenga tower without toppling it over”.
“We had to carefully remove sections of soil and rubble, as well as larger boulders one at a time,” she explained. “We needed to know exactly where each boulder was placed before we could move it without endangering Jess further. It took several hours – we worked slowly and carefully to avoid any mistakes.”
Ms Beacroft stated that after rescuers removed enough rubble, they had hit a “turning point” where they could then see her.
Rescuers continued to dig around the hole, surrounding it and sustaining the pooch with chicken treats.
With the final rocks finally gone, owner Shane Darwood’s pet was successfully extracted from the hole by her harness.
“She was wagging her little tail so rapidly,” Ms. Beacroft said. “She had a reunion with her owner after being pulled to safety.”
She said she was grateful that Jess escaped unharmed.
“Although we stayed confident throughout the process, it was tense knowing that a fall could mean dropping boulders on top of her. With no visual reference points to help us gauge where things were located, we had to rely on our instincts and skill set.”
Dartmoor National Park is in Devon, England. It is known for its rugged beauty, moorland landscapes and granite tors. The park covers an area of 954 square kilometers (368 square miles). It also has a number of old mines and quarries, which have been abandoned for centuries. Many of these are now used as hiking trails or for other recreational activities.
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