Everyone has a story about an educator that shaped their life in an important way.

Think about your favorite teacher in high school. Was is the English instructor who wrote meticulous notes in the margins of your essays? The math teacher who tutored you in geometry every Thursday at lunch? The history teacher who was so passionate about their subject they'd show up to class dressed as important historical figures?

For the students at Valley Christian High School in Arizona, that person was Joe Lara, a Spanish teacher who some students saw not just as an instructor, but a father figure.


"Throughout the year Mr. Lara has been such a great blessing to me," one student wrote on Instagram. "He sees potential in all of his students, and he has seen things in me that I haven’t even seen in myself. He’s believed in me at times when I didn’t believe in myself."

When Lara announced that he was leaving the school, his students knew they had to do something special to thank him for everything he'd done for them.

It's always difficult when a teacher you love leaves. And sometimes, when you think about them years later, you wish you'd done something to show them just how much you cared. Lara's students? They won't have that problem. On his last day (which also happened to be his birthday!) they gave him a surprise he'll never forget. One that's so big even Michael Jordan's brand tweeted about it.

Have you guessed what the surprise was yet? If you thought "A pair of pristine Air Jordans," you're absolutely right! According to his students, Lara has wanted a pair of the shoes for over a decade. But considering how expensive the shoes are (especially in comparison to how much teachers typically make) he could never justify the expense. So everyone chipped in to buy them as a way of saying "thank you." The heartwarming moment was captured on video and has now been viewed millions of times.

Are you ready for this? (Yes, I'm absolutely referencing Jock Jams. Why don't you hit the play button on this baby before you watch the video below. Really, get yourself pumped up!)

It's hard to tell who's happiest here — the teacher who's unwrapping a pair of 2012 retro Jordans, or the students anxiously waiting for Lara's reaction.

"I need scissors," Lara says as he's unwrapping the gift.

"No you don't," students scream back. Then Lara uncovers the box.

"No way," he exclaims shortly before being overcome with emotion. "You didn't!"

You know what, though? They absolutely did. And when he sees those shoes for the first time, the entire room descends into howls, with Lara leading the noise.

And they weren't the only ones feeling it.

This story is sweet, but it's also an important reminder of the value teachers bring.

Our favorite teachers don't just recite from a textbook. They don't just prepare us for tests. They care, they listen, and they project their passion. They mentor, they counsel, and they encourage us to become the adults we want to be. They give us the tools to make our dreams come true. And yet, too often, they're undervalued. In recent weeks, teachers have walked out of their classrooms to protest that they don't have the resources to do their jobs.

As one Oklahoma educator pointed out in a viral Facebook post, teachers don't have enough books, their classes are too large, and sometimes the low pay can force qualified teachers to leave the profession.

Teachers like Lara are rare, but they shouldn't be. And no one will disagree that kids deserve the very best. That's why we must all support educators. Because the difference they make can't be measured or quantified.  And hey, if we get a video like this every day, you won't find me complaining.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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