Pay It Forward: Valley teacher helping schools around the world - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Pay It Forward: Valley teacher helping schools around the world

© CBS 5 © CBS 5
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

An engineering teacher at Desert Vista High School is changing minds and the quality of life not only in the Valley, but around the world.

What Dan Zavaleta teaches is hard to define. It says engineering next to his name in the yearbook. A quick glance at all the gadgets and trinkets around his classroom would tell you that the same thing but the influence of "Mr. Z," as his students call him, goes well beyond the confines of the school building.

"Dan is an amazing teacher... puts in probably 15 or 16 hours a day during the school year and very often Saturday mornings find him right back here at the school," Zavaleta's friend, Rose Rumney said.

Tyler Adamson, the Robotics Team Captain, was front and center as Zavaleta guided his students to a victory in the national underwater robotics competition.

The team had to build functioning cameras, microphones and lighting for an underwater mission.

Zavaleta often pays for the spare parts himself but their efforts literally paid off when the Desert Vista team ended up beating everyone including the squad from ASU.

And during the summers, Zavaleta and his partners travel all over the globe. They have outfitted third world schools in Fiji with solar powered lighting and helped purify water at similar schools in Mexico.

His students helped design many of those same projects that are now making a difference around the world.

"You got to get them enthused," Zavaleta said. "Once they're enthused, it doesn't matter what - they are going to go find out what they need to find out, whatever interests them. You just got to get them started and once they're started, they're good to go."

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

SIDEBAR: Pay It Forward

Updated:

Nominate someone for Pay It Forward Pay It Forward stories archive Paul's Car Wash More>>

  • NewsMore>>

  • The Latest: Barbara Bush's casket wheeled out of church

    The Latest: Barbara Bush's casket wheeled out of church

    Saturday, April 21 2018 10:44 AM EDT2018-04-21 14:44:47 GMT
    Saturday, April 21 2018 3:15 PM EDT2018-04-21 19:15:15 GMT
    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Attendees arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush, Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Houston.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Attendees arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush, Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Houston.

    Guests have begun to arrive at St. Martin's Church in Houston for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush.

    More >>

    Guests have begun to arrive at St. Martin's Church in Houston for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush.

    More >>
  • Barbara Bush was 'first lady of the greatest generation'

    Barbara Bush was 'first lady of the greatest generation'

    Saturday, April 21 2018 12:04 AM EDT2018-04-21 04:04:04 GMT
    Saturday, April 21 2018 3:15 PM EDT2018-04-21 19:15:01 GMT
    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Mourners pause as former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush lies in repose during the visitation of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Friday, April 20, 2018, in Houston.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci). Mourners pause as former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush lies in repose during the visitation of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Friday, April 20, 2018, in Houston.

    As the outpouring of tributes continues for Barbara Bush, the general public can pay its respects to the former first lady.

    More >>

    As the outpouring of tributes continues for Barbara Bush, the general public can pay its respects to the former first lady.

    More >>
  • Trump says he doesn't think personal lawyer will 'flip'

    Trump says he doesn't think personal lawyer will 'flip'

    Saturday, April 21 2018 9:14 AM EDT2018-04-21 13:14:09 GMT
    Saturday, April 21 2018 3:14 PM EDT2018-04-21 19:14:40 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In a Monday, April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. Federal prosecutors said they can give President Donald Trump's person...(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In a Monday, April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. Federal prosecutors said they can give President Donald Trump's person...

    President Donald Trump says he doesn't expect personal lawyer Michael Cohen to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen's business dealings.

    More >>

    President Donald Trump says he doesn't expect personal lawyer Michael Cohen to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen's business dealings.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly