Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rough Rider

This is a great picture of Teddy Roosevelt as a Rough Rider in Cuba during the Spanish American War. You all know that TR was a big hero of mine, and that we sometimes joke about needing to bring his Bull Moose party. I actually looked up his campaign platform from 1912, and saw that one his main platform objectives was :

"To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day."

Wow, if we ever needed someone to break up the unholy alliance between corrupt politicians and corrupt wall street types it is today. As you watch the people who were responsible for collapsing our economy continue to vote themselves huge bonuses, while the very politicians who approved the bonuses feign outrage, you wonder if there is any honest and good person left out there, or if our country has become totally corrupt. Has every last person become corrupt and greedy?

Well, I am happy to announce that there are still some decent, loving, and generous people out there, and apparently many of them read this blog. On Sunday I described to you a really remarkable young man named Dustin. I met him at the first of the school year when he signed up for my Multimedia class. He came into the year an angry young man. He brought many mistakes, baggage and scars into the class. He was a student that had little or no hope. As he sat in the class and learned to make WEB sites, he also learned responsibility, integrity, and respect. He learned self control, and how to be a man. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to watch this young man take responsibility for his actions. Along the way, members of this blog watched the WEB site of this class develop (, and the class received many hundreds of encouraging emails from you all. These emails let them see that they were not losers, and that they could do work that was respected by the world.

Of all the students, Dustin made the most progress. So much so that he took the initiative to enter an essay contest. Against amazing odds, Dustin actually won the contest and won an expense paid trip to Washington DC. On Sunday I brought you Dustin's story, and explained that as a poor kid, he did not have nice clothes to wear on the trip, and he was in need of pocket money for the trip. I explained that Dustin works, but he was in need for a little help on this trip. Your generosity was overwhelming. In just a few days, you all contributed $1,400 to help Dustin. The contributions came from students, high school teachers, laborers, and the contributions came from all over the world. Each person that gave sacrificed something in order to help a boy who was trying to get his life on the right track. I was so encouraged by your kindness and generosity. I did a quick calculation, and concluded that your generosity would allow Dustin to buy some clothes, have some spending money for the trip, buy a laptop for college, and still have some left to help with his college expenses. Between your gifts, Dustin's summer job, and scholarships, I determined he would be able to go on the trip, have a lap top, and have the money needed to make it through his 2 year college program.

Yesterday was the day I was to present the money to Dustin, and tell him of the kindness of strangers. The multimedia class is right before lunch, so I told the class that I would bring a smoked turkey in for the class to celebrate Dustin's win in the essay contest. The students all indicated they would bring some food in as well. I invited some of the other teachers as well that I knew had an interest in Dustin. We had a wonderful time eating during the class, and then after class, we took Dustin down to the Principal's office. We had invited his Mom, several other teachers, and several administrators to be present.

I then said a few words, and presented Dustin with an envelope with the money, and told him how much I appreciated him, and how his story had really inspired people. I then told him that people from all over the world wanted to help him, and then presented him with your gifts.

By this time everyone in the room was crying, especially Dustin. Dustin took a few minutes to get his composure. He then took the envelope with your gifts, and walked over to the Counselor. He handed her the envelope. He said that he wanted to donate the entire amount of money to the school to create a new scholarship. He wanted the scholarship to be called the "Dustin Ramirez Alternative Energy Scholarship fund", and wanted it to each year go to a student who would be attending the Junior College Wind Turbine program that he had signed up for. He wanted the criteria for the award to be based on respect, self control, and personal responsibility. He said he wanted the fund to start this year by giving a scholarship for $500, and then each year give one $500 scholarship. He did the math and figured that your gifts would pretty much cover the first three scholarship grants, and then after that he would have a job, and personally be able to contribute so that the scholarship can continue indefinitely.

Dustin kept nothing for himself, he donated to entire amount in the hopes of encouraging others to take the path he has taken.

I would like to put the corrupt politicians and Wall Street types on notice: Not everyone is greedy; not everyone is corrupt. You should read this true story and be SHAMED. While the entire financial system collapsed, and while you already had unimaginable wealth, all you could think of is grabbing more, more, more. Dustin is a young man with nothing, and yet he still gave all he had.

Dustin Ramirez was the Kid that had Nothing
Turns out he has more than anyone else

I hope you will help spread Dustin's story. I think it is something people need to hear.


  1. Oh! Now I have tears in my eyes. This young man will go far in life!

  2. Now that is real hope and genuine change!

  3. Now that is truly one amazing young man. That kind of self-sacrifice will shine through in all he does. Hollywood couldn't have written a better chapter... I hope we get to see some more!

  4. That's great. I'm sorry I couldn't donate as I'm not exactly a man of many means, but I did work in the news. I've got a good eye for good stories when . I hope you don't mind but I sent your URL to a news station. With any luck they'll be able to see as well that you've done something really amazing here.

  5. I agree; an absolutely amazing and selfless act

  6. Way to "pay it forward" Dustin!!
    Truly inspiring!!
    God Bless!

  7. Such outstanding, merited behavior in a young man reveals the amazing progress Dustin has made since coming to your class.

    Dustin performed a totally selfless act with his financial gift. He is the model for others to emulate.

    Yet, I imagine we are all concerned that Dustin will have nice clothes and pocket money for incidentals when he goes to D.C.

    When the news media gets this story perhaps it can generate interest among readers to take care of Dustin's needs during his trip.

  8. Oh my goodness. I have tears in my eyes I am so moved, not only by the very generous donations, but by Dustin's concern for his future peers. I hope he will take a little bit from the donations to get himself some clothes and pocket money though. I also will share Dustin's story.

  9. Someone should submit this to Oprah

  10. Congratulations PMJ! You have do a truely amazing thing in bringing Dustin to this proud point in his life. I would hope other teachers could hear about your progress so they could be refreshed a charged up to go back into their class rooms in a better frame of mind willing to work with all of their students to get the best out each of them.

    Please keep us posted. I imaginn we could help again given the opportunity.

  11. What an amazing young man, he certainly has a bright future.

    I have a feeling he will be famous someday.

    And he certainly puts the majority of our elected officials to shame.

    This just goes to show you how much "disadvantaged" people can achieve with the proper encouragement.

    I think this story merits national media coverage, and Dustin should meet the President.

    PS - since my donation is the last to arrive, i hope he uses it for his trip.

  12. I don't know what to say.

    You have put your finger exactly on what has gone so wrong in 'establishment', and I am humbled what this young man has done with my donation and your involvement.

    Keep it up.

    I will have to share this.

  13. Oh MY GOD Dustin! I know you'll read this. You are a mentor to all of us! If we could be a generous as you? Thank you for VOTING for Mother Earth and for saving all of our futures in the process. You made number ONE on my list!

    ;) S

  14. PMJ Thank you for being you, and giving the best of yourself to these young people! To inspire them to make change not only in their own lives, but in the lives of their peers as well.



  15. A man of this Quality would make a great President. It is not often that someone will think of others let alone one of his age. Selfless acts such as this one represents very nature that founded this country. I trust as he matures he will continue to inspire others to give without thought of reward in hopes that others may benifit.

  16. I have added Dustin to my daily prayer list. This young man will go far in this world and has blessed so many already.

    I am honored to have been a part of this young man's journey. Please let me know when he or any of your students need help.

  17. I too was unable to donate any money. But now, if he still needs clothes, well I can do that and would love to! if that is possible, please let me know what sizes he wears and where I can send them. I would love to help in any way I can.
    Good job PJM! Good job Dustin!
    God Bless you both.

  18. PMJ- just thought you might want to know about this contest- this one's for educators to submit their "videos that tell stories of student/educational transformation using technology. " When I read that- I thought about you and what you've done with your students.

    Yeah, you may not win... but that's what Dusting thought!

  19. Guess you need the link, huh? Sorry, here it is...

  20. this is better than the story i was gonna read before bed tonight.

    mr. mcwhorter: you're the kind of teacher i wanted to be.

    and dustin's the kind of student i hoped to develop.

    i'm glad to get to share the world with folks like you guys.

  21. Amazing story. I revisited this today and I'm curious about how Dustin is getting along. I suppose he's in college now. Would you mind posting an update? Thanks!