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Under the best of circumstances, a career in education is a labor of benevolent masochism. Teachers spend forever and a summer crafting lesson plans for ungrateful students who draw nasty caricatures of them on their Trapper Keepers. But there are some educators who have gone above and beyond even that high bar, pole vaulting into nigh-sainthood. Like...

6
Teachers Who Donate Organs To Their Students

Fox8

Being a great teacher means putting a lot of yourself into your work, but usually that's a metaphor. Some teachers have taken a more literal interpretation and ripped out their own organs, Temple Of Doom style. Take, for example, Wendy Killian, who taught kindergarten at Mansfield Christian School in Ohio. One of her pupils, Nicole Miller, had a genetic disorder that wreaked havoc on her kidneys and school attendance. But when Killian discovered during a parent-teacher conference that the child would need a kidney transplant, she jumped at the chance to give one of hers away without even bringing up Nicole's subpar spelling quiz performance.

Fox8
"Dialysis" is a toughie.

But that wasn't a lone case. When 13-year-old special-needs student Ayla Ahmed Ali's kidneys stopped functioning, special needs coordinator Ray Coe stepped in, put his name on the donor list, and turned out to be a match. Thanks to Coe's selflessness, Ayla pulled through, achieving the status of teacher's pet for life.

Archant
She can now legally pee in the teacher's lounge.

Kindergarten teacher Marie Bell was deeply moved when she discovered 5 year-old pupil Sean Smith was missing school because his ailing father needed a kidney transplant. Bell decided that this could not stand, and donated one of her kidneys to her student's dad. Just try slacking off in class again after that.

5
The Teacher Who Builds Instruments Out Of Trash To Help Poor Kids

Meeta Productions

In Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, one man's trash is not just another man's treasure. It's also his children's playground -- at least if you live in the village of Cateura, which has the honor of being built directly on top of Asuncion's main landfill. As one might expect of a place erected on a massive pile of trash, Cateura's residents lived in poverty. The primary industry was picking through the landfill for sellable items, a career which you might recognize from the sci-fi dystopia Elysium, or just, y'know, depressing old reality.

Meeta Productions
You need a tetanus booster just for looking at this photo.

Music teacher Favio Chavez decided to change that by getting the local kids interested in classical music. The only problem is that there are no instruments in Cateura -- a genuine violin would be worth more than their average house. They do, however, have a shitload of garbage. So Chavez decided to make lemons into lemonade. Or rather, garbageade. He built their instruments out of trash.

You're probably imagining some kid hitting paint-tin drums with twigs while someone scrapes a dead rat over a washboard, and then sobbing into your cornflakes over the injustice of it all. But Chavez has built violins, cellos, and wind instruments out of oil cans, cooking utensils, and bits of discarded wood. And they sound awesome:


The instrument they play best is your heartstrings.

The recycled instruments, which make conveniently unattractive targets for would-be thieves, sometimes even outshine real instruments in terms of sound quality, making Chavez's gesture all the more amazing. Over the course of his lessons, he's enriched the lives of over 120 destitute children. Still, no matter how technically accurate it might be, it'd be kind of a dick move to tell them they sound like garbage.

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4
The Teacher Who Invented Devices To Bring Water And Electricity To His Students

via ChoosePhilippines.com

William Moraca was a teacher in the Philippines assigned to educate the children of B'laan and T'boli tribesmen in General Santos City. He couldn't help but notice that the fiery passion for knowledge wasn't enough to keep Sitio Klolang village lit at night. They didn't have electricity, or even running water.

F. de Jager
"Nighttime outhouse accidents were our second leading cause of injury."

Luckily, Moraca learned how to MacGyver sources of renewable energy at a trade school. Using these almost suspiciously convenient skills, Moraca constructed a water system in Sitio Datal Salvan. It used magnets acquired from toys and appliances, as well as a pumping doohickey to direct water from a stream to the areas surrounding the elementary school.

When word spread of Moraca's achievement, he was asked to move to Sitio Kolang to combat their electricity woes. Once in Sitio Kolang, Moraca worked his mechanized magic once more. Supplied with materials and manpower by the town, Moraca invented a windmill that generated free energy for the village's 40 huts.

Philadelphia Star
And then he brought them cable TV.

He was so beloved that his students wept when they learned of his transfer and even considered barricading the school to prevent him leaving. Of course, if they had constructed a barrier, Moraca would have easily whipped up a hang glider out of garbage or some kind of coffin Jet-Ski to get around it -- the crafty bastard.

3
The Teacher Who Paid For An Illegal Immigrant's College Degree

Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

When Itzel Ortega was accepted to study architecture at Cal Poly Pomona, she was ecstatic. And then it turned out that the university wanted money for education, and as an undocumented immigrant, she couldn't apply for financial help.

It seemed like her dreams were in default, until an empathetic teacher offered to pay her way through school.

Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
"I had to see her finished model. The suspense would have killed me."

That teacher was Leticia Arreola, who taught Ortega English in eighth grade. Arreola recognized that her young pupil had incredible talent. Since Arreola's father was an undocumented immigrant himself, she knew how hard it was, so she decided to help out -- to the tune of $7,000 a year for five years. Which translates to about a billion dollars in teacher salary money.

Arreola went a step further, and insisted that Ortega would never have to pay the money back. She didn't let her fairy god teacher down -- after getting straight As in community college, she won an internship with the Disney company and was admitted to college. There's still a possibility she'll have to hand over her firstborn child or something after skipping over the fine print, but as far as we're concerned, Arreola is the tits.

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2
The School Where The Principal Helps Families Pay Rent

CBN

Sherrie Gahn was the principal at East Las Vegas' Whitney Elementary School, where in 2011, 518 out of 610 pupils were living with their families in motels, if they had anywhere to stay at all. Pained by the plight of her students, she appealed for donations from businesses and individuals across the country. Her message to the parents was simple: Keep their kids in school, and she would take care of the rest.

Las Vegas Review-Journal
An elementary school dropout is the saddest kind of dropout.

And she delivered. Gahn used the donated money to buy clothes and food for her students, get them haircuts, pay for dentists and optometrists, and in some cases even pay their goddamn rent. The story is so heartwarming that even Justin Bieber, himself the child of a single mother, chipped in with a $100,000 donation and a special performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2011. He did it again in 2013, with a $150,000 donation and stopover at the school. Good lord, Sherrie Gahn really did the impossible: She made Justin Bieber seem likable.

Michael Rozman/Las Vegas Sun
Seriously, look at how non-punchable he is.

1
The Teacher Who Travels Hours By Donkey To Educate Underprivileged Children

via New Hero Project

Luis Soriano's passion for educating children was ingrained from the beginning: He became a teacher at the age of 16, when most of us were still making up nasty nicknames for Mrs. Mickhead (more like Mrs. ... Sickhead! Yeah!!). Soriano discovered that children living in the so-called "abandoned regions" of Magdalena, Colombia, were missing out on education -- all due to the trivial matter of being surrounded by groups of bandits and guerrillas. You have to come up with a better excuse than that if you want to miss Soriano's class: He loaded up his donkeys and embarked on a knowledge delivery quest to the most dangerous regions of Colombia.

Ingrid Rojas/CNN
Spreading an assload of learning wherever he went.

Soriano created a mobile library called the "Biblioburro" (book donkey) in 1990. And ever since, he has spent Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings riding two donkeys named Alfa and Beto and a cart of books to visit 15 different poverty-stricken villages. He provides homework help, teaches geography, and has children read or listen to stories.

Diana Arias
The free donkey rides are just a bonus.

Over the 4,000 hours that Soriano has spent riding to and from villages, he has encountered serious perils. On one trip he shattered his leg after falling off one of the donkeys. During another trek he was assailed by bandits who were disappointed to find that the only treasure Soriano was carrying was education. So they tied him to a tree and stole a copy of Brida, a novel about the pursuit of knowledge. Because bandits love situational irony.

We appreciate everything teachers do, but of course there are more than a few who are a bit ... misguided. See what we mean in 7 Spectacularly Crazy Lessons Taught By Real Teachers and 4 Teachers Who Just Went Nuts On The Job.

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