Students Save Up, Buy Teacher ‘Dream Shoes’ With Their Own Money


When students heard that their favorite Spanish teacher would be leaving their school, they knew that they wanted to do something special for him.

After 10 years teaching Spanish, Joe Lara told his students that he would be leaving his job at Valley Christian High School in Chandler, Arizona, on April 25. His last day was also his birthday.

Although he was probably emotionally prepared for his final day, he was not expecting the sweet gift three of his students saved up to buy him.

Fifteen-year-old Sailor Coutermarsh was one of the three students who bought him the gift and she posted a video of the surprise on Twitter.

“Since our teacher is leaving and today is his birthday, we got him his dream shoes he talks about every day,” she wrote.

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The video opens on Lara putting down a brightly wrapped box and saying to his students, “I need scissors.”

He cuts off the ribbon and starts to unwrap the paper. He pauses when he uncovers an Air Jordan box.

“No way!” he says, looking at his students in shock. To which they respond, “Open it!”

He yells, “No way!” again as he reveals more of the box, and his students respond “yes way.”

“You didn’t,” he said and he puts his head in his hands, obviously overcome with emotion. The girls continue to yell, “open it!”

Lara finally opens the box, peels back the tissue paper to reveal the Air Jordan sneakers.

“Ohhhh!” he yells and starts to jump up and down with excitement. He holds up the shoes for everyone else to see.

“My dream shoe!” he exclaims.

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“We love Señor Lara and wanted to give back to him for all of his hard work! He has been there for all of us and is such a good teacher,” Elise Gasson, another student, posted on Twitter.

The Jordan brand even tweeted the video with the caption, “Thank you for your dedication to the next generation of flight, Mr. Lara. We’re honored to be a part of your classroom.”

It is clear that the students will miss their teacher, and Lara will forever remember the kind gesture of his students who saved up money to buy one of their favorite teachers his dream shoe.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith