In honor of back-to-school season, we're recognizing one hero who is educating kids outside of the classroom — by teaching them important lessons like kindness, leadership and respect.
Curtis Jenkins lives in Dallas, Texas, where he's been driving school buses for eight years. As a driver, he goes above and beyond his normal duties every single day.
Knowing bullying goes on all too often on school buses, Curtis knew he had to come up with a way to encourage the kids to "love and respect each other."
"I started by having kids that didn't get along sit next to each other, got them to learn 10 things about each other that they didn't know. By the end of the week, they ended up becoming friends," Curtis says.
"I think it's important for me to teach my students what morals are." By emphasizing values like kindness and generosity, he was able to create a community for the kids who ride his bus each day. Curtis also assigns leadership roles to the kids — like chairman and judge — to help keep everyone safe and teach them about accountability.
"He teaches them responsibility, he's teaching them empowerment, he's teaching them that they can be a leader when they go into their school and for the rest of their lives," says the school district's superintendent, Dr. Jeannie Stone. "It's not the typical job description of a bus driver, but I think it should be."
Perhaps the biggest act of kindness Curtis showed his students, though, was when he and his wife agreed to use the money they had saved for their honeymoon to buy Christmas gifts for all the kids on the bus instead.
"Me and my wife had set aside some money to go take a honeymoon. We took a vote [and decided] to spend it on the children for Christmas and give them the things that they wanted," Curtis says. "These kids gotta know my word is all I have, and I love them enough to sacrifice the proceeds that I make and earned, to put something away for them."
"My dream is to have these kids one day be in positions, paying it forward into our community and other communities with dignity, love, respect and honor in whatever position they hold," Curtis says.
Because we were so touched and inspired by Curtis' kindness, we invited him and Dr. Stone to our show, where Rach had a few surprises in store.
First, our friends at School Specialty were so touched by the work Curtis is doing that they donated $10,000 to the school. And, thanks to the Royalton Antigua Resort and Spa, Curtis and his wife get to take that honeymoon after all. They're sending the couple to the resort and spa for an all-inclusive stay.
Needless to say, it's well-deserved! ❤️