In the Spirit of Kindness: Indiana Teacher Makes Philanthropy Fun

Multiplication tables, coloring maps and spelling bees – a typical day for some educators, but not for second grade teacher, Pascual Cubero Soto.   


His students start every day by dancing, singing or another fun activity to forget about the stress happening outside. Of course we focus on the educational material, but at the same time try to release some stress and let them be kids,” said Pasucal. 


Leading a class through plexiglass has its own unique challenges, but Pascual insists his students be kind to one another – something he learned from the host of one of his favorite TV shows, Ellen DeGeneres. 


After Ellen shouted out to his class on Twitter, Pascual wanted to show his appreciation to the television star through philanthropy. His students collected money for the Ellen Fund, an organization that supports global conservation efforts of endangered species. The class recorded a video reading a book about gorillas and sent it to the show via twitter, which caught attention of the Foundation, producers of the show and Ellen herself! 


After being contacted by a team member from the Ellen Fund, Pascual assumed he would be meeting virtually with a representative from the Foundation, but to his surprise he was sharing a screen with Ellen and his face was being broadcast on TVs across the country.  


Pascual says the weeks following his interview at the beginning of March have been a whirlwind for himself and the students. 


He and his school, Forest Glen Elementary, both received financial gifts from the show and the entire class were named official ambassadors for the Ellen Fund. 


“They think their famous, which they are… but on top of that, they’re learning,” Pascual said. 


Naturally, he’s turned this happy moment into an educational opportunity for his students and encourages them to continue researching on the fund and the conservation efforts.  


This focus on philanthropy isn’t new to Pascual or Forest Glen Elementary. In 2020, the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township was named a Spirit United winner by United Way of Central Indiana – a prestigious award given to the top philanthropic partners across Central Indiana. 


During COVID-19 students, teachers, and alums at Forest Glen Elementary have stepped up to donate dollars, essential items, and precious time to support our neighbors in need – something Pascual has shown firsthand to his students. 


Even if you don’t have anything to give, you can help with your actions,” Pascual said. “It doesn’t have to be money; it doesn’t have to be something material.” 


Looking ahead and anticipating what lies ahead for his class and the field of education in general, Pascual has one request: empathize 


“Try to become a child again and try to understand how stressful this is for them to go from face to face, to virtual face to face,” he said. To host students, he insists to “never underestimate your own possibilities.” Pascual didn’t, and he was able to meet one of his inspirations. 


To those who are curious how they can help other teachers across central Indiana, Pascual put it quite simple – “If you see a teacher, tell them how grateful you are for them,” Pascual said. “The words mean so much.” And of course, be kind to one another.