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.
New Kiwi Hospital in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands
New Zealand, known for its stunning landscapes and unique wildlife, is home to the kiwi, a flightless bird and the country’s national icon. The kiwi is a curious and endearing bird, with a long, slender beak, soft brown feathers, and a round body.
In rural Kerikeri, a new kiwi hospital has been established by the conservation group Kiwi Coast to care for injured kiwi. This hospital is a vital addition to the region, as the kiwi population is on the rise in areas where communities are actively engaged in intensive pest control efforts.
Andrew Mentor, the coordinator of Kiwi Coast, explained that the increasing kiwi population is a positive sign but has led to more injured birds. These injuries often occur due to interactions with dogs, cars, and ponds. Currently, injured kiwi are taken to the Bird Recovery Centre in Whangārei for treatment and recovery. However, the long travel time to the centre adds extra stress to the already ailing birds.
The new kiwi hospital, built on land provided by a local farmer in cooperation with Puketotara Landcare and local hapū Te Whiu, features nine pens, each equipped with a nesting box and native ferns and grasses. Additionally, a clinic with three brood boxes is available for quarantine and intensive care.
The hospital anticipates receiving kiwi in need of care due to factors like drought, climate change, or attacks by dogs or feral cats. Being able to stabilize and rehabilitate these birds locally will greatly reduce stress and improve their chances of recovery.
The establishment of a dedicated kiwi hospital in the Bay of Islands is a significant step forward in conservation efforts. As a stronghold for kiwi, this region will likely see more kiwi and, consequently, more incidents requiring rehabilitation. Having a local facility will ensure that injured kiwi receive prompt and effective care, ultimately contributing to the preservation of this iconic species.
Heroic K9 Biza Saves the Day in Freezing Cold
In a remarkable story of bravery and skill, a K9 police dog named Biza became a hero in Auburn, Massachusetts. Biza, a female German Shepherd with the Auburn Police Department, played a crucial role in finding a 12-year-old who went missing in the freezing cold weather.
The adventure began late at night, around 10:30 PM, when the young child left home without their mother’s permission and no way to contact anyone. With the temperatures dropping and concern growing, the police were called in to help find the missing youth.
Enter K9 Biza and her handler, Auburn Police Officer David Ljunggren. Together, they set out into the cold night with one mission: to bring the child back home safely. Biza, with her keen sense of smell, was given something to sniff to pick up the child’s scent. Before long, she was on the trail.
Imagine trekking through the night, following a determined dog who is your guide, your hope. Biza tracked the scent for over two miles, leading the officers through the dark. Her training and instincts were put to the test, and she passed with flying colors. The officers found evidence along the way that the child had passed by there not too long ago, thanks to Biza’s incredible nose.
Finally, Biza’s hard work paid off. With additional officers joining the search in the area Biza had led them to, the missing child was found a short time later. Thanks to Biza and the police team’s efforts, the story had a happy ending, with the child being safely located and returned home.
Deputy Chief Richard Mills of the Auburn Police had high praise for Biza, saying, “Biza is a good dog.” This simple statement speaks volumes about the trust and bond between K9 units and their handlers, and the incredible work they do together.
A Heartwarming Tale of Rescue: Saving Ryszard the Puppy
In a small village named Kuligów in central Poland, an adventurous little puppy named Ryszard found himself in a big, unexpected adventure. Ryszard, an 8-month-old pup, along with his seven siblings, embarked on an escape from their home near the Bug River. However, their adventure quickly turned into a dangerous situation when the river began to flood due to an ice jam breaking.
As the water rushed towards them, six of the puppies managed to swim to safety, but Ryszard wasn’t so lucky. He ended up stranded on a small island in the middle of the now swollen river. This island became his home for almost a week. Imagine being all alone in such a scary place, without any food, warmth, or your family. Ryszard was cold, hungry, and exhausted, howling for someone to help him.
The Bug River and its surroundings experienced the worst flooding they had seen in over ten years. The situation was dire, and even local firefighters tried to rescue Ryszard. But the river was too dangerous for them to reach him. The water was flowing fast, filled with ice and debris, making any rescue attempt extremely risky.
Then, after five long days, hope arrived from an unexpected place. A team of maritime specialists, sea rescuers from Kołobrzeg—a city on Poland’s northern Baltic coast—heard about Ryszard’s plight. They decided to embark on a massive journey to save him. These heroes traveled 700 kilometers (about 435 miles) across Poland to reach the little island where Ryszard was stuck.
Their effort was not in vain. The team successfully rescued Ryszard, bringing him to safety after his terrifying ordeal. It was a challenging mission, but the rescuers believed that saving Ryszard was worth every bit of the effort. As one of the rescuers, Paweł Depta, said, traveling the 1,400 kilometers (roundtrip) was entirely worthwhile.
Ryszard and his siblings are now under the care of a foundation that is helping them recover from their adventure. They’re getting lots of love and the care they need to bounce back. Videos of Ryszard’s recovery show him getting better, a testament to the resilience of our furry friends and the kindness of humans who go to great lengths to help them.
Bus Driver’s Heimlich Heroism Saves Choking Third-Grader
Quick thinking and calm under pressure made a Volusia County school bus driver a real-life hero last week. Mayrelyn Lopez, while attending to a minor bus backseat ruckus, noticed a third-grader struggling for breath, turning alarmingly purple. Without hesitation, she sprang into action, saving the boy’s life with the Heimlich maneuver.
Lopez, like many bus drivers, is trained in first aid and emergency procedures. But nothing beats firsthand instinct. As she swiftly walked back to the front after resolving the disturbance, she spotted the boy, Levi Holder, gasping for air and clutching his throat. “I say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ Grab him and just do ‘this’ so fast,” Lopez recounted, demonstrating the Heimlich maneuver.
Her quick action dislodged the piece of candy stuck in Levi’s throat, sending it flying. Relief washed over both of them as air returned to Levi’s lungs. “Thank God, I [stood] up at the right moment,” Lopez admitted, shaking her head. “I was scared.”
Thanks to Lopez’s bravery and her training, Levi is back home and doing just fine. The eight-year-old, still shaken but recovering well, had only words of gratitude for his rescuer. “She was very nice,” Levi said, his voice tinged with awe. “Thank you for saving my life.”
For Lopez, the simple act of helping a child in need was all the reward she needed. “I’d want somebody help my kids if they are in that situation,” she said, her voice thick with emotion. “It’s just something you do.”
Her quick thinking and heroic deed resonated within the community. School officials lauded Lopez’s professionalism and heroism, and parents expressed their heartfelt gratitude for her swift action.
Michigan Man Saved from Icy Waters by His Dog and a Brave Police Officer
In a remarkable rescue story from Traverse City, Michigan, a 65-year-old man owes his life to his loyal dog and a quick-thinking police officer. This heartwarming tale began on a chilly day at Arbutus Lake, where an afternoon turned into a life-threatening situation.
A Scary Fall Through the Ice
The man, enjoying a day near the lake, suddenly found himself in danger when he fell through the ice. Trapped in freezing water, he could only keep his head and shoulders above the surface. His faithful dog stayed by his side, anxious but unharmed.
The 911 Call and a Rescue Attempt
Someone called 911, and soon, a police officer arrived to help. The officer tried to throw a rescue ring to the man, but it didn’t reach him. That’s when the officer had a brilliant idea involving the man’s dog.
A Clever Rescue Plan
The officer, identified as MCO Bennetts, called to the dog, asking the man to send her over. The man told Bennetts that his dog’s name was Ruby. “Ruby, come here! Come here, Ruby!” Bennetts called out. Ruby, wagging her tail, ran to Bennetts.
Bennetts then attached the rescue disc to Ruby’s collar and asked the man to call her back. As Ruby returned to her owner, Bennetts instructed the man to take the disc from Ruby and start kicking his legs to stay afloat.
The Dramatic Rescue
“Bring your feet up to the surface by kicking your feet!” Bennetts shouted, pulling the man onto the ice’s surface. He urged him to hold onto the disc while he kept pulling the rope, dragging the man to safer ice near the lake’s edge.
Finally, Bennetts and a local firefighter grabbed the man’s arms to complete the rescue, with Ruby still attached to the rope.
A Happy Ending
The state police said the man was taken to a hospital for treatment and was later released. The rescue was celebrated on social media, with special praise for Ruby. “What a good girl!!! Amazing ice rescue from 7th District, MCO Bennetts. Creative thinking helped save a life!! EXCELLENT JOB MCO Bennetts and RUBY!!” read a tweet from the agency.
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