EL DORADO HILLS, Calif. — The first lesson of the day for students at Marina Village Middle School happens well before class. Every morning, 94-year-old Wally Richardson greets parents with a wave, and their kids with what he calls "Wally-isms."
"Be kind whenever possible," he tells some students.
After he gives fist bumps or "ka-nuckles" as Richardson calls them, the 80-year age difference seems to disappear.
"I want them to retain something that they can take on in life later on," Richardson said.
But his own life experiences make him an expert on what kids won't find in a textbook. He joined the Navy in World War II, was a fighter pilot in the Korean War and then flew for United Airlines.
But Richardson's new gig started 15 years ago when he was on his daily walk. He likes to teach life lessons to kids, before they become "too cool" to listen.
"It takes one significant adult in a kid's life and you can impact them forever, and Wally is that person with kids," said Cheryl Olson, the school superintendent.
When Richardson tells the kids to be kind whenever possible, they respond by saying, "It's always possible."
He hopes he will pass on important life lessons of "love and kindness."
"If they can be kind and loving to people in life, they won't have any trouble getting by," Richardson said.
It's a labor of love, and as Wally would say, "Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right."
for more features.