Retired substitute teacher living in car given $27,000 by former student

FONTANA, Calif. — A retired substitute teacher living out of his car was recently given $27,000 by a former student.

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Jose Villarruel, known as “Mr. V” by his students, retired last year as schools moved to distance learning, KTTV reported.

“I decided the school situation has changed completely and I believed that a job of a substitute was over,” Villarruel said. “In May, I submitted my resignation. I managed to do all of the paperwork, all of the arrangements to get my pension. I got my check, but that check didn’t last long because I had debts already.”

Shortly later, he was living out of his car.

Former student Steven Nava noticed his former teacher who was now homeless. When Nava was in school, Villarruel helped him pass a math test.

“I usually see him almost every single day and it got me thinking, ‘I’ve got to talk to him and know his situation,’” Nava said. “I was just devastated and gutted for the reality of the pandemic and how it has left teachers without a job and this is one of the results and it’s sad to see one of your own teachers go through that so it only makes you want to help out more.”

Nava first gave Villarruel $300 but a crowd sourced funding account he set up soon raised more than $27,000.

Villarruel was presented with a check for the money during a celebration in his honor featuring former students.

“The greatest feeling that I have right now is like an obligation that I need to do a lot for the world and the greatest feeling is I can do it and I’m going to find a way to do it,” he said.

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