Mom Raises $35,000 for Custodian Who Helped Her Son With Autism Thrive at School

Mom raises $35,000 for school custodian
(Facebook/Tales of an Educated Debutante)

After seeing the impact the school custodian had on her son Amos, a simple “thank you” wouldn’t suffice for Adrian Wood. 7-Year-old Amos attends White Oak Elementary School in Edenton, North Carolina, and at first, his time at school was challenging. Amos has autism, and for Wood, sending him off to school on his own was a far different experience than most parents have.

“Sending three typical kids to school — you’re sad, but you’re excited for them,” Wood told Upworthy. “Sending Amos to school was such a different path. He was three when he started school. He was in diapers and he didn’t speak. But after Mr. Brown started saying ‘hello’ to him and calling him ‘Famous Amos,’ Amos started saying, ‘Hey Brown,” when he saw him. He wasn’t even saying ‘Daddy’ at that point, so it was really something.”

Mr. Brown is the custodian at White Oak Elementary, and for the past 15 years, he’s been going above and beyond to make the school a brighter place in more ways than one. He puts the students first, no matter how much work he has to do. Mr. Brown pours his heart into White Oak every single day, and Wood decided it was time to give something back.

Though Mr. Brown was nominated for a North Carolina Schools Heroes contest, he didn’t win. The loss hit Adrian Wood especially hard, and rather than nominate him for other awards, she took things into her own hands. Wood wrote about her gratitude towards Mr. Brown on her blog, and the moving story struck a chord with her followers. Before long, Wood had collected $35,000 for the custodian and father.

“Head custodian, a native of Edenton who graduated from our local high school in 1977 where he wrestled and played football,” Wood wrote on Facebook. “He had wanted to be a state trooper, but it didn’t happen. He got married and had five children, one of them whom was killed in a motorcycle accident. This week, he and wife celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary. Tomorrow morning, our community is surprising Mr. Brown with a big event.”

As Mr. Brown and his wife posed for anniversary pictures, they were interrupted by a different type of celebration. The community gathered to honor their favorite custodian, surprising him with signs, flowers, and $35,000.

“I was very surprised,” said Mr. Brown. “To see all those people shouting and hollering ‘Mr. Brown, congratulations,’ it was beautiful and it’s hard to explain, but I know this community loves Mr. Brown.”

Stop Re-Reading That Kids’ Book at Bedtime and Write Your Own with These Courses


Convinced you’ve got an idea so great it could be the next Harry Potter? Whether you’ve been brainstorming ideas for the next big young adult series, plotting an autobiography or have a non-fiction book you think could fly off the shelves at Barnes and Noble, The Ultimate Creative Novel and Screen Writing Academy Bundle will help you accomplish your writing goals. This bundle is packed with 11 courses that tackle multiple genres of fiction, screenplays and non-fiction books, and it’s available for just $49.99.

Author Steve Alcorn will walk you through 11 info-packed courses, which kick off with the Novel Writing Workshop. This course will show you how to take your original idea and turn it into a published novel, guiding you through the process step by step  writer’s block be darned! Steve is familiar with the process and breaks it all down into six simple steps that will leave you with a polished manuscript by the time you’re done. And once your story is finished, Steve will also cover the “collateral material” you’ll need to promote and pitch your novel to publishers.

Since Steve Alcorn has written fiction novels ranging from mysteries, young adult novels, and romances to children’s books, while also tacking non-fiction, he’s a great resource to guide you through the rest of the courses, which tackle genres like Writing for Children, Write Your Life Story and the Non-Fiction Writing Workshop. Ready for Hollywood to come knocking? You’ll also find guidance for penning a screenplay with Screenwriting Workshop, which gives you the tools to turn your film or television idea into an actual screenplay.

Non-fiction writing is a different process, so the Non-Fiction Writing Workshop is the perfect class for those hoping to publish a non-fiction book. This course gives you simple steps on turning your idea into a completed book and figuring out a marketing plan to get published once you’re finished. Hoping to publish your work of art — non-fiction or otherwise — on your own? Publish Your Book Now! takes you through the process of getting your book on Amazon and Kindle in just a day.

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a published author, it’s time to turn that into a reality with The Ultimate Creative Novel and Screen Writing Academy Bundle. It’s available now for just $49.99.

Prices subject to change.

Just a heads up, if you buy stuff using the provided links, The Dad may collect a small commission.

Teacher Adopts Teen Student Unable to Find a Foster Family Due to Medical Needs

Teacher adopts teen who couldn't find foster home due to medical needs
(YouTube/KENS 5: Your San Antonio News Source)

Teachers often go above and beyond for their students, working long hours and putting in an extraordinary amount of effort to ensure their students’ needs are met. For many teachers, their dedication to their students extends far beyond the classroom. In extraordinary circumstances, teachers become far more than educators to their students – sometimes, they even become family.

Finn Lanning, a math teacher from Aurora, Colorado is a favorite among his students. He trusts his middle schoolers, instilling in them a sense of responsibility that helps them become more self-sufficient. Two years ago, a student named Damien approached Lanning with heartbreaking news – he wouldn’t be returning to school.

Unwilling to let his student walk away that easily, Finn questioned the 13-year-old, trying to understand the circumstances that led to the abrupt news. Lanning never could have anticipated the bomb that the fun-loving, intelligent teen was about to drop – Damien showed up to school and worked hard, but his home life was non-existent. Damien was in foster care, but due to kidney disease, it became impossible for social services to find a foster home willing to take on the extra responsibility of a foster child with medical needs.

Since foster care was no longer an option, Damien was being sent to live in a hospital. As if his situation wasn’t challenging enough, receiving the transplant he desperately needed was nearly impossible since those without stable homes to return to after surgery were less likely to be approved.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, you just can’t sit across from somebody that you care about and hear them say something like that and know that you have room to help,” Finn recalled to CBS News.

Though Finn thoroughly enjoyed his life as a childless bachelor, something changed after his conversation with Damien. The teacher was both unwilling and unable to sit by as one of his students lost everything. The young teacher made a decision, one that would change both of their lives forever – Finn Lanning became a foster parent.

Damien was hesitant to let himself feel excited, though he was thrilled he wouldn’t have to call a hospital his home. “It’s kind of bad thinking about that, but some people actually do that. Like, they’ll be happy with you one day and then just kick you out the next,” he said.

But two years later, Damien no longer has to worry about whether or not he has a place to call home. A few months ago, Finn adopted the now 15-year-old, making their little family official. Damien even received a kidney transplant, finally allowing him to live his life as a normal, happy teen.

Conquer Coding Once and For All With This Training


Whether you’d like to learn coding as a hobby or you’re hoping to make a career change in 2021, it’s a skill that’s becoming more and more valuable as technology keeps advancing. Even busy dads have downtime—use it to help you master the intimidating world of coding.

As kids start getting in on the coding action, make sure you’re not that parent who can’t help with the Python and Ruby on Rails homework. Thanks to The Master Learn to Code 2021 Certification Bundle, you can learn all the ins and outs of coding from the comfort of your couch. The 13 courses would all individually set you back $2,594, but right now they’re available for just $34.99 when purchased as a package.

Buckle in for the 119 hours of content over 13 classes that cover topics like HTML, data science, different programming languages, and more. You’ll be learning from highly-rated instructors like Tony Staunton, a Python development and productivity consultant with a 4.2-star rating who will school you on Ruby on Rails. You’ll learn the basics and advance all the way to being able to create your own apps with this web development framework.

Rob Percival, the creator of Codestars with a 4.5-star instructor rating, teaches The Complete C# Programming Course. You’ll conquer C# and .NET framework with code challenges, exercises and real-life examples in this info-packed course.

Then get into JavaScript with JavaScript Beginner Bootcamp, a course that helps you understand the language and start building your own interactive webpages. That course is taught by Rob Merrill, a front-end engineer with a 4.5-star rating.

And there are plenty more informative courses where those came from, led by instructors with impressively high ratings.

Finally learn to code, in your free time. Get The Master Learn to Code 2021 Certification Bundle for $34.99 today.

Just a heads up, if you buy stuff using the provided links, The Dad may collect a small commission.

Fourth Graders Get To Slime Teacher After Reaching Charity Goal of $50,000

Students slime teacher after raising $50,000
(YouTube/Miss Sutherd, TikTok/ms.sutherd)

The importance of giving back is a lesson best learned early. When kids see the impact they can have on the world around them, it has the potential to guide their decisions and priorities for the rest of their lives. Ms. Sutherd, a fourth grade teacher in California, wanted to teach her students both about the power of social media and the impact they can have on others. To help them see their potential firsthand, Ms. Sutherd devised a plan.

Together with her students, Ms. Sutherd challenged her class to raise money for charity using social media as a tool. They settled on raising money for Shriners Hospital for Children, but when asked about their fundraising goal, the young students set the bar astronomically high.

“They said well, ‘What if our goal is $50,000?’ I said, ‘That’s crazy, but I am here for it,’” Ms. Sutherd recalled in a YouTube video.

Ms. Sutherd had gone viral on TikTok for her challenges to her students in the past, but this time, the class aimed to reach as many people as possible to hit their goal. As further incentive for her students, Ms. Sutherd agreed to the ultimate kid fantasy – if the determined fourth graders hit their lofty goal, they’d get to slime their teacher.

@ms.sutherdSLIME MS. SUTHERD #foryou #forthekids #TIKTOKCHALLENGE #fyp #shriners #lovemykids #HairFoodChallenge #PepsiApplePieChallenge #teachersoftictok♬ original sound – Miss Sutherd

After posting her initial plan on TikTok, Ms. Sutherd’s lesson quickly went viral. Her YouTube video’s caption read, “With the help and support of everyone across America (and the world), including the NFL, Tony Hawk, and Rosie O’Donnell, my kids had a day they will NEVER forget.”

Ms. Sutherd pitched in $1,000 on behalf of her class, who donated their tickets (their classroom currency) to the cause. Tony Hawk donated $1,000, and strangers from every state in the US helped the class hit $30,000. Saladin Shriners donated the final $20,000 to get the glass to their final goal. They did it – $50,000, and a whole lot of slime for Ms. Sutherd.

The proud teacher concluded, “This whole experience just goes to show that anyone, of any age, from anywhere, can make a difference.”

When a Student Was Embarrassed by His New Haircut His Principal Fixed It for Him

Principal Haircut
(Facebook/Lewis Speaks)

A principal in Indianapolis is going viral for the compassionate way he treated a student and it’s a genuinely touching gesture. It was the first day students were back to school for in-person learning, and the pupil in question refused to take his hat off. He was subsequently sent to the principal’s office.

When he got there, the middle school principal Jason Smith, learned the boy wouldn’t take his hat off because he was embarrassed about his haircut. Instead of launching straight into disciplinary action, Smith told the student he had experience cutting hair. He showed him some pictures and proposed fixing his hair with clippers if he’d go back to class. The boy agreed. Smith called the student’s mom for consent and then got to work. A school resource officer shared the photo on Facebook, saying the principal was a great leader.

“The principal could have easily called the child’s parent and put him out of school for the day, but he took time out of his busy schedule to make sure the student was successful completing his first day of school,” he wrote.

The student’s mom said the principal handled it very well.

“I’m just glad he was able to handle that without being put in in-school suspension,” she said. The student apologized for his behavior afterward and went back to class.

Smith told CNN that disciplinary action would’ve just prevented the student from being in the classroom and learning and that he checked in on the student after the haircut and he was following the rules and was doing great in class.

“All behavior is communication and when a student is struggling, we need to ask ourselves what happened to this child instead of what’s wrong with the child,” Smith said. “What need is the child trying to get met and really, the future of urban education rests on that question.”

Now that’s a principal with some positive principles.  It’s a position that often gets ridiculed in popular culture, but the principal can set the tone for an entire school, and choosing compassion and understanding over discipline speaks volumes about his dedication to his students.

Teacher Donates Kidney So Pre-K Student Can Live a Normal Life

Teacher donates kidney to student
(YouTube/FOX 2 St. Louis)

Teaching isn’t the kind of job you do for the money. Teaching day after day requires your full attention, and the amount of preparation the job requires means that working 12-hour days isn’t unusual. Your patience is tested constantly, and you’re perpetually wearing multiple hats to both manage your classroom and teach the material. Teaching is hard. Realistically, people go into teaching for one reason – because they love what they do.

COVID has demonstrated the flexibility and range that’s required of a good teacher, whether they’re adjusting to new in-person rules or completely redoing their curriculum for remote learning. One Missouri teacher named Robin Mach recently took her dedication to her students to an entirely new level by saving one student’s life.

5-Year-old Kayleigh Kulage was born prematurely, entering the world at just 26 weeks and weighing in at under a pound. According to her mom Desiree, Kayleigh spent a whopping 158 days in the NICU, fighting for her life and growing stronger every day. Since she was born underdeveloped, however, Kayleigh has been on dialysis every night since birth.

“If she didn’t have like these tubes on her or anything you wouldn’t really know anything’s wrong with her,” Desiree told Fox 2 Now. “She never cries. She never complains about pain. She’s a happy kid. I couldn’t have been any luckier to have her.”

Robin Mach, a teacher at Kayleigh’s school, has known the brave pre-k student for almost two years. Mach provided home services to Kayleigh and saw firsthand the struggles that Kayleigh endured without so much as a complaint. After bonding with the 5-year-old, Mach made a life-changing decision. She didn’t want the little girl to live her life reliant on tubes and wires, so to render them obsolete, she opted to donate her own kidney to the young student.

“She needed it. I wanted her to have a normal life and go to school. And this is how we can help her get there,” Mach said.

After a painful surgery and days of waiting anxiously to see if the transplant was successful, Kayleigh has a new lease on life. She will now be able to bathe without a catheter, she can fall asleep watching Frozen on the couch without having to be woken for her nightly round of dialysis. Thanks to Miss Robin, as Kayleigh calls her, she will be able to live her life to the fullest.

“She’s incredible,” Desiree said of Miss Robin. “She was offering to do our laundry. And take me back and forth. And I’m like, ‘you just had major surgery. You need to go home and rest.’ I don’t know how to thank her. So, all I keep on saying is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

College Student Goes Viral for Incredible 3D-Printed Iron Man Suit

Iron Man Suit by Emily the Engineer

Few things are as inspiring as kids pulling off badass achievements, whether it’s a charity, athletics, or, in this case, science. A recent college graduate is blowing up on Tik Tok for creating an incredibly cool and accurate Iron Man replica suit she made with the help of a 3D printer.

Her suit is truly impressive and the video she put together about the process of making it quickly went viral, pulling down more than 60 million views. Emily Yaird told Good Morning America she posted it right before her college graduation and was overwhelmed by the views it quickly received.

@emily.the.engineeriron man update 🙂 #ironman #fyp #3dprinting #haventseen♬ Celebrate the Good Times – Mason

The suit was a labor of love, and one she did for the first time at age 14, when she put together an Iron Man suit out of Styrofoam and hot glue. When she got to college, she felt she could do better and has been trying to one-up herself ever since. This…will be hard to top. Tony Stark himself would be impressed with her creativity and engineering prowess. The suit has back flaps that open, a laser in the arm, and a helmet that closes.

Her account, Emily the Engineer, blew up after her latest video, as she now has more than 2 million followers. She told a local news station she hopes to get a job making more videos and said it’s a “blessing to be able to do something that is your hobby, for fun, and have people watch and encourage you to do it full time.” On GMA, she shared practical advice for kids interested in engineering; just start.

“Start getting your hands dirty. Build things, get your hands on tools. Making stuff like this has helped me tremendously in things like co-ops, internships and stuff like that, so I definitely recommend getting your hands on stuff and building things.”

Her videos are definitely an inspiration for younger kids and show young people are capable of far more than they get credit for.

And if anyone can appreciate the dedication to tinkering, falling to a hobby, and constantly working to make it better, it’s dads.

Principal Working Walmart Nightshift to Help Students Gets Outpouring of Support

Walmart Principal

A high school principal in South Carolina is raising the bar to unheard-of levels when it comes to giving his all for his students. Henry Darby took a second job stocking shelves at Walmart during the overnight shift to make money he donates directly to students in need.

“I get emotional because when you’ve got children you’ve heard slept under a bridge, or a former student and her child sleeping in a car, I wasn’t going to say no,” he told the TODAY Show. “At my age, we don’t ask for money, we just don’t. You just go ahead and do what you’ve got to do.”

His story went viral, and thousands rushed to aid him in his mission. A GoFundMe sprang up to raise $20,000 for students, and it quickly blew past that goal (currently at $177k) and Walmart itself got in on the action, donating $50,000 to Darby’s school in a surprise meeting on the TODAY Show.

OK, here’s the part where I will acknowledge the caveat that it’s somewhat depressing a principal would have to work a graveyard shift just so kids wouldn’t have to sleep in cars or under bridges. Obviously, some wholesale societal failures going on here that would even put kids in that position. But Henry Darby is one man, so he’s doing what he can. And he is going to work.

Darby didn’t tell his boss at Walmart what he did during the days. He said he simply wanted to work without fanfare and use those resources for the students. The store manager said they would be happy to have him as long as he wants to work there, and gifted the $50k from corporate.

He was speechless and said it would go a very, very long way for students. And then he went back to work because that’s what he does. Taking care of kids during the day, stocking shelves at night to make their lives a little bit better.

Some real hero stuff. He was even recognized by the governor of South Carolina and given the state’s highest civilian honor. He just used it as an opportunity to heap praise on teachers.

“My working at Walmart… to assist those who may need financial assistance pales in comparison to those unnamed educators, whose names are never in print, or in the headlines, but who do ordinary things in an extraordinary manner, ultimately resulting in the greatness and having students become productive citizens,” he said.


New Study Finds 70 Percent of Parents Use Google To Help Kids With Homework

Google Homework
(Getty/Kevin Dodge)

Helping your kids with their homework is a rite of passage for a parent. And what’s tough is that it’s getting harder. 5th-grade math in 2021 is not the 5th-grade math from 1991 or even 2001. The amount of homework kids are assigned has been skyrocketing as well, with some kids having hours of work every night. Don’t feel too bad for parents, though, because we have a secret weapon: Google.

According to a new study by OnePoll and Photomath, a homework assistance app, more than two-thirds of American parents are jumping on Google to help their kids with their homework. And honestly? Why not? There is a serious argument to be made for the youth of America that knowing how to find the right answer (and a trusted answer), is more important than actually memorizing figures and equations. It’s not that different than double-checking your work with a calculator.

OK, many teachers may not buy that argument, but even still, it can’t hurt for a parent to double-check their work (and what they tell their kids) with a quick little Goog.

The survey of 2,000 parents said that nearly 4 in 5 can recall some of the math they learned in school, they also said it was harder to help their kids with their homework. It did say kids will ask for help with homework, on average, five times per week. And when they do, couples typically negotiate (argue!) over who will help.

This is where it can be helpful for each parent to take ownership of certain subjects, so you both don’t have to re-learn everything your kids do. More learning for us? God forbid! And really, that’s why the Google option shouldn’t be a shameful one.

The truth is, we did school, we made it through to the other end! Why should we have to do school two or three more times just because we had kids? That’s when a friendly Google can save your night, and help keep your kid on the right path with their figures.

Lucky Dad Plays Lottery To Support Idaho Public Schools, Wins for the 6th Time

Dad wins lottery for the 6th time
(Idaho Lottery, Facebook/Bryan Moss)

Winning the lottery is something most of us have dreamt about at some point, but very few actually get to experience it. More of us would be able to feel the thrill of a win, however, if dad and statistical miracle Bryan Moss stopped hogging all the luck. Moss has won the lottery not once, not twice, but six freaking times.

Not all of Moss’s wins have been enormously substantial, but in January, Moss secured his biggest lottery haul to date – a whopping $250,000. Moss has been playing the lottery for years, in part because the Idaho Lottery contributes a significant amount of money to Idaho Public Schools.

According to the Idaho Lottery’s website, the “total dividends given to all Idaho Public Schools and the Permanent Building Fund from 1990 – 2019 is $961.5 million,” because “62.5% of dividend funds are given to the Public Schools.”

The contributions that the Idaho Lottery consistently makes to Idaho’s public school system has kept Moss coming back over the years. He said in a statement, “I’m proud to help support Idaho public schools, that’s really why I play.”

This is the biggest win Moss has ever taken home, completely crushing his previous record of a $10,000 win. There are countless things one could do with that sum of money, but in keeping with the reason he’s continued playing over the years, Moss already knows exactly where his monumental win is going. To this dad, it’s all about education.

Moss is heavily invested in his daughter’s schooling, stating that his lottery winnings will go towards her future education. And one day, as Moss’s daughter inevitably sits in her statistics class solving a problem about the probability of winning the lottery (every statistics textbook somehow has that problem), she can quietly close the book – this one clearly doesn’t apply to her incredibly lucky family.

Weird Al Yankovic Slides Into High School Crush’s DMs 50 Years Later

Weird Al Patrice Drawing

When it comes to romance, you gotta shoot your shot. Or, you can plant a seed you fail to check on for 50 years, but when you do, it’ll be a banger of a story for social media. Musical parody legend Weird Al Yankovic lands the latter category. In fact, he’s both the creator and sole member of that category, as he shared a quickly legendary story about a high school crush on social media.

The story starts simply enough, with Weird Al describing that he was also weird (well, awkward, shy and nerdy is how he described it) when he was 12. As an underage high school freshman, this is to be understood. But he had a crush on the girl who sat in front of him in math and wanted to let her know. Being painfully shy, his grand gesture was to draw a picture of her and give it to her. Of course, he didn’t want her to know why he made it, so he made sketches of EVERYONE in the class and handed those out too. But, he said he made Patrice’s picture a lot better, to be subtle about his pick-up attempt.

Predictably, she did not pick up on it.

Fast forward nearly 50 years. Now 61, Weird Al notices a woman on social media claiming to have sat in front of him in 9th-grade math class. So he DMs her to ask if her name is Patrice. It is! So he decided to ask; “hey, by any chance do you happen to remember that one time I drew pictures of everybody in class?”

A minute later, she sent this picture.

Nearly five decades later, and Patrice had held on to the picture from Young Weird Al.

“She had saved it all these years,” he wrote. “I just felt like telling this story because, well… 2020 was arguably a pretty sucky year overall, but there were some real moments of joy sprinkled in here and there – and for me, this was definitely one of them.”

It truly is a cute story.

Hero Kindergarten Teacher Continues To Teach Virtually While Getting Chemotherapy

Remote Teacher Chemo
(Facebook/M Health Fairview)

Teachers are incredible. If you didn’t think that before, you DEFINITELY think that now after seeing what they’ve had to endure to teach kids during a global pandemic. From inventive remote learning techniques to handling the flux education patterns and plans, teachers are redefining going above and beyond for our kids. And one, in particular, has set the bar at an even higher level. Kelly Klein, a kindergarten teacher from Minnesota, has continued to teach remote kindergarten DURING her chemo treatments for a second bout with ovarian cancer.

After she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer for a second time, Klein made the decision to teach for as long she could. She told Good Morning America teaching is her passion, as her three-plus decades in the game can attest.

“I’m going to make the most of my time,” she said. “I don’t take anything for granted.” So she made her treatment facility, a room at a local health care center, her virtual classroom and teaches 5-and-6-year-olds while getting chemo treatments. She literally brings her laptop and all of her supplies and gets to work.

“When you’re at chemo and you’re around a lot of sick people, it’s kind of a depressing place to be. For me, to be around 5-year-olds during that time, it’s like a slice of normalcy in an abnormal environment.”

Her principal said the teacher is beloved by students and colleagues alike, and that she did not want to take a leave after her latest diagnosis. Klein said she gets energy from the kids, and that they help her through the five-hour treatments since she’s not allowed to have any visitors with her during that time.

She’s been described as the type of teacher that students remember long after they’ve moved on, and it is not hard to see why. Just legendary, to battle cancer a second time WHILE having the energy to be there for students, which is not easy even when you’re healthy.

Truly next level stuff, and a testament to the profession.