Student who lived in shack cries when teacher rewards his kindness

by: CBS 4 News Rio Grande Valley     Published on: 18 May 2012

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While most Nikki Rowe seniors are itching to get out of school, Armando Beltran doesn't want to leave to school. The 19-year-old spent most of his life in foster care.With no real family to call his own, the school has been Armando's only true home.He often spends 12 hours a day there.Cynthia Villegas teaches English at the school.She says she'll never forget Mando's caring ways."He has nobody to turn to...Parents or family," said Cynthia. "And yet he's so optimistic and he's such a good kid... And everybody who meets him... Loves him."He volunteers in the library, helps staff in any way and always remains positive, according to Cynthia.It's amazing for her to see considering he once lived in a shack and still rides his bike for miles to and from school.Cynthia says he also works a number of odd jobs to help make ends meet.He's unable to get a real job because he doesn't have a social security number."I wanted to Pay it 4Ward to Armando because he gives us hope," said Cynthia. "He's got a good heart and I just want him to have a better future." Pronto Insurance has the Pay it 4Ward prize."Usually it's the staff that's nominated for the Pay it 4Ward program," said Domingo Reyna with Pronto Insurance. "Being able to recognize a student brings us joy at Pronto Insurance. On behalf of Pronto Insurance and Action 4 News, here's $400 for you to Pay it 4Ward." With the money in hand, Cynthia joins Action 4's Ryan Wolf for the surprise.Armando is volunteering in the school library at the time.Ryan: I'm Ryan Wolf with Action 4 News. Are you Armando Beltran? Armando: Yes. Ryan: You look very surprised to see me.Armando: Yes. I have no idea.Cynthia broke the news to him about the surprise.Cynthia: Your story inspires us all... Thank you.Armando: I don't expect things for return for what I've done for them.The recognition was overwhelming for Armando who started to cry.He already gets help from some Nikki Rowe staff who donate money from their own pockets for his bills.The money has enabled him to move into an apartment.He never realized the impact he was making on other people's lives.The Pay it 4Ward recognition only reaffirms why he calls his school-- home. Armando: I live alone, and when I come back, at least I have somebody to talk to. This is my last year and even though I'll come to visit them. I will miss that affection you hear every day. Talking to them... And having a good time with them. It's because I haven't been with my family for a long time. So I've always been alone... So this is kind of my family here. Bridgette Vieh is the high school's principal.She believes Mando's impact at school will last long after he's gone.Principal: He doesn't feel sorry for himself, he doesn't expect things. He's just a real grateful student that's looking forward and he's just a great young man. I just feel like there's hope... That we can raise our kids that way.While the $400 prize is a shocker, Mando knows he's far richer with family-- His Nikki Rowe family.Armando: It's just that I really want to have a different thing in my life. I really don't want to live like where my parents lived. I really don't want to worry about that anymore. So every time I come here and I see them (staff) I like them so much, and they helped me so much. It's like a lot of help. Helping from the heart, it's more way to "Pay it 4Ward."Armando was born in the US, but at home with no midwife or doctor.The Texas legal system is assisting him with obtaining a birth certificate and social security number soon.Once that happens, he hopes to join the military.Click here to nominate someone for Pay it 4WardClick here to join Ryan Wolf's Facebook page Click here to follow Ryan Wolf on Twitter