Changing their lives for the better: Wichita physical education teacher gives students a second chance

Hispanic Heritage Month

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off Wednesday. During the month, KSN News will be highlighting the stories of those who are changing lives in our communities.

The first person is José López. He is a physical education teacher at Wichita’s Marshall Middle School. He’s been teaching there for 17 years. However, it was not until recently that López found a new love for his job, helping those most in need.

“I am just doing my little part to help out for the situation,” said López.

It all started because of a conversation that led to a bigger discussion.

“As a teacher, you get to read, and you get to see a kid’s personality, and you can tell when something is going on or something is a little bit different about that child,” said López.  

López had noticed a recent change in a student’s attitude. So one day, he sat down with the kid and simply asked what was going on.

“He was telling me about his situation and what had happened,” said López.
 
The student had lost his dad because of deportation, and his family had to rapidly sacrifice several things out of their lives.

“Stuff that he loved,” said López. “He loved soccer, and he couldn’t do that anymore.”

That is when the idea blossomed. After reaching out to the student’s coach and his league, the teachers at Marshall Middle School realized he would need as much help as he could get.

“One of the teachers said why don’t we start selling shirts and stuff and do that and get some money,” said López.

‘Bien Burro U,’ a sarcastic expression of endearment, is labeled on the T-shirts that have helped raise more than enough money to keep the Marshall Middle School student participating in the sport that he loves.

“Somebody did that for me at some point in my life,” added López.

Now, he is paying it forward by helping other kids who may not be as fortunate.

“You are not doing it for a thank you. You are doing it because they need the help.”

López says he hopes to continue helping the students at Marshall Middle School for many more years.

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