Larry Powell: The Selfless Superintendent

In Fresno County, California, Superintendent Larry Powell is responsible for 195,000 students in 325 schools in 35 school districts, all for an annual salary less than what a starting California teacher earns. Why? Because Powell has chosen to give back and give back big. Over the next three years– until 2015–$800,000 of his salary will go into a fund to ensure the survival of education projects from the state of California’s budget cuts.

“How much do we need to keep accumulating? There’s no reason for me to keep stockpiling money,” says Larry Powell.

Powell started his career as a high school civics teacher and hopes that this generous act will restore faith in the government he once taught his students to respect. The funds will go into a discretionary account that allows Powell the control to ensure that the money goes for things like art, kindergarten and preschool programs, and a personal project that steers B and C students into college by teaching them how to take notes and develop strategy skills.

Powell has faced many challenges in his life, but he has never let that stop him. Even contracting polio in childhood couldn’t damage Powell’s positive outlook. He has chosen to see his disease, which left him with a limp and a brace, as an asset, not a hindrance. This positive attitude helped Powell to become a champion high school wrestler and he still credits others with his success.

“It’s (polio) the most spectacular thing that has happened to me in all my life,” he said. “People stepped up to help me be successful.”

And now Mr. Powell is stepping up to help make others successful.

“When you make good choices, good things happen to you,” said Powell.

And as a Mindful Hero, we salute Mr. Powell for all the positive impact his generosity will have!

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