One Teacher’s Life-Changing Lesson Plan

By  | 

I’m talking about teachers again today, and WOW! are you going to love this story.

When I first partnered with Office Depot for their Adopt-a-Classroom program, I knew that teachers worked hard and were underpaid. I knew that they were teaching our kids important things (like how to read).

But then I learned the 10 Shocking Facts about Teachers (that I shared with you last week), and I realized just how much teachers are doing – that goes way beyond just making sure my kid knows how to read.

And after hearing today’s story, I’m absolutely stunned at how teachers are literally changing the world.

One Teacher's Life Changing Lesson Plan

Meet Brian Copes

Brian is a teacher at Calera High School in Calera, Alabama.

Brian Copes

Rather than just stand at the front of the room and lecture to his students or assign worksheets during his pre-engineering class, Brian decided to take things a little further.

“My proudest and most successful teaching units are those where students take what they have learned in the classroom to help others and ‘Change the World.’ Instead of having them focus on themselves, I’m having them focus on others.”

So what does that mean exactly?

Well, not too long ago, Brian and his students traveled to Honduras and fit 14 amputees with prosthetic limbs.

That they built themselves.

Man walking with leg

Yes – you read that correctly.

Brian’s students invented an inexpensive prosthetic limb using old car and bicycle parts.

Prosthetic Limbs

And then they built 14 of them in the classroom and took them to Honduras

Student in lab

Brian says, “The cheapest prosthetic limb on the market is $2,000 – $3,000. My kids made one for about $100.”

The students are thinking through every scenario as they make the limbs – even utilizing bike parts when they can to cut down on future costs.

As one student said, “They have a lot of bikes in Honduras, so if a part breaks, they can fix it.”

Using bike parts1

Brian can still remember seeing the first Honduran amputee fitted with a prosthetic leg take his first steps.

“One of the beaming Calera students exclaimed, ‘It’s a miracle!‘ I choked back my tears. Not only did my student change the life of a stranger, but a stranger changed the life of my student. And they both changed my life and how and what I teach.

Man walking with prosthetic limb

Watch this powerful video about Brian and how he and his students are changing lives.

Trust me, it’s a powerful two minutes.

Now THAT is what I call a life-changing lesson plan!

Want to know how you can help?

Office Depot has teamed up with Adopt-a-Classroom to share how teachers are changing lives – and how we can help!

Whether you want to adopt a specific classroom – like Brian’s – or make a general donation, click here for more details.

And if you’re a teacher – register your classroom so that people can support YOU!

Teachers change lives you can too

This is the second in a series of four posts I’ll be doing about teachers this month on behalf of Office Depot. I was compensated for this post, although all thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. Christie

    April 17, 2014 at 6:52 am

    We need more teachers like this- that inspire kids as well as teach them. That teach them to be innovative- not just learn a bunch of facts to be able to answer questions on a test. I loved this post!

  2. Meredith

    April 17, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Wow, Anna. What a very cool, cool story. Thanks for sharing it–Brian is an inspiration to all!

  3. Lisa

    April 17, 2014 at 8:59 am

    This is amazing! Being married to a teacher, I see the smallest and biggest sacrifices that are made on a daily basis. Thank you for taking time to show the world how wonderful our educators are.

  4. Parri (Her Royal Thighness)

    April 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    What a really neat story! Thanks for sharing this. I love how this teacher is inspiring innovation and an anything-is-possible attitude. Teachers have become scapegoats in this country. But they are really our unsung heroes!

  5. Pingback: Five Teachers who Are Changing Lives - My Life and Kids

You must be logged in to post a comment Login