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[Weekly Inspiration] This Stern Calculus Teacher Has a Soft Secret

[Weekly Inspiration] This Stern Calculus Teacher Has a Soft Secret

For his students, Jim O’Connor has always been a stern-but-capable, respected-but-feared high-school math teacher. Nearly all of them like him, but they also might say that he’s a bit of a drudge. And for most of his life, that’s all his students ever thought of him.

But when Pat, one of Jim’s many students, was put in charge of organizing a student blood drive, the teenager learned something truly extraordinary. Arriving at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for a meeting, he wasn’t expecting anyone to ask him about his math teacher. But they did. A lot of them asked about Jim. And to Pat’s surprise, he found his teacher’s name on a plaque of the facility’s top blood donors.

“What? Like… it’s disbelief, really. It’s almost like, kind of funny, this alter ego that he has,” said Pat.

All it took was a little bit of sleuthing for Pat to find the other side of his teacher. What he learned is that for the last 22 years, Jim has volunteered three days a week at that very children’s hospital. Pat’s tough-as-nails Vietnam veteran of a teacher spends that time cuddling sick babies, helping to hold, comfort, and feed children.

The staff say that Jim has the magic touch with the children. “They tend to calm for him, they tend to relax with him, they fall asleep with him,” says one of the nurses at the hospital.

Jim isn’t married and doesn’t have any children of his own. He does this for the children, for the ones who don’t have a parent to comfort them. He doesn’t want to see them be alone. And he did this in silence, away from the eyes of his students, for decades.

But thanks to Pat’s detective work, Jim’s story was shared with the world. The original video racked up millions of views, and Jim’s secret came out. He even received an award from the Archbishop of Los Angeles.

Check out the video here. Do you know any tough teachers like Jim who harbor a secret soft side? Share their stories with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Chris.Gruhlke's picture

Chris Gruhlke is a published author with a broad writing background covering a variety of topics, including politics, education, public safety, and technology. In 2018, he joined Edmentum as a Bid Operations Writer, where he helps to bring Edmentum’s transformational solutions to school districts across the United States.