A beloved math teacher in L.A. entered what he believed was a faculty appreciation ceremony but instead walked out with the keys to a car.
Julio Castro, 31, lives in Santa Clarita Valley and teaches at YULA Boys High School. He wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning and commutes about four hours a day by scooter and bus to get to and from the school because he does not have a car.
He returns home sometimes as late as 9:30 p.m. — long after his three young children have gone to sleep.
“He still makes sure to devote all this time to students,” said Joshua Gerendash, who happened to see Castro looking at cars online. “He’ll skip his lunch break to help a student and stay after school. He also helps students who aren’t in his classes. He’s really, really, really devoted to our futures.”
Gerendash was committed to getting Castro a car.
During a months-long fundraising campaign, Castro’s students, aware of his transportation difficulties, raised more than $30,000 to buy him a 2019 Mazda CX-3. They also bought him a year’s worth of gasoline and car insurance.
“I feel surprised. I feel special. So thank you to my students. They are like my kids as well,” Castro told KABC. “Now that I have a car, I get to drop off my kids every morning. And then coming here with time to spare, I can use it on my lesson plans. Then on my way back, traffic is still bad, but I’ll be able to make it for dinner.”
“No matter what happens with him, he is gonna find some way to pay it forward,” senior Charlie Leeds told the Los Angeles Times. “We’ve been taught certain values like empathy” and to “treat your fellow person as you’d want to be treated. Mr. Castro is the embodiment of that. With this car, with this new opportunity, he’s only going to find more and more ways to help other people around him.”