Former students launch fundraising campaign to help beloved San Francisco teacher who's fallen ill

Some of the most exceptional teachers are the ones who leave an impression long after their students depart from their classroom. And for retired San Francisco high school teacher Michael Roman, the impact he left on his students has been demonstrated to him in an extraordinary way during a time of need. 

Former students of retired San Francisco teacher, Michael Roman, launch GoFundMe campaign to help with medical expenses after the teacher falls ill. 

Roman, who for a quarter of a century taught English at San Francisco's Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, was recently hospitalized and has been undergoing treatment for a bacterial infection, according to former student William Ngor. 

The condition led to mounting medical expenses totaling some $5,300. So Ngor and some of his former classmates decided they wanted to help a dedicated and caring teacher who has helped them in so many ways.  

They recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Roman’s hospital bills and other health expenses.

"I launched this effort as a way of trying to help a teacher that has truly shaped my life in such a meaningful way," Ngor shared on GoFundMe. "Throughout my time in Galileo there was one teacher that I could really go to for advice and he didn't just offer advice, he offered friendship," the now college student shared.

Once he set up the fundraising campaign, the news traveled quickly to community members, including many other former students who also felt that their lives were positively and effectively shaped by the former teacher.

On the GoFundMe, donor Alex Bullo, shared, "Mr. Roman was my teacher back at Gal. He has a heart of gold. He genuinely loves and cares for his students and their future."

Another, Jeffery Wong, posted about how Roman not only helped him as a student, but went on to inspire him when he himself became a teacher. "Mr. Roman has been there for many aspects of my life," Wong wrote. "From a high school student to a current high school teacher. During my first year of teaching he continued to motivate me and give me tons of advice that I continued to use on my own students. He inspired me to create relationships and long lasting bonds with each of my students."

For Ngor, he described the man who first came into his life as teacher and mentor, as someone he now genuinely considered a good friend. "His classroom served as a home for not only my friends and I who called him a friend, it served as a room for anyone, regardless of their grade," Ngor said. 

And that connection that started in Ngor’s freshman year at Galileo grew over the years. "Even after Mr. Roman retired due to health issues, the friendship he and I shared extended past that and into my time now at UC Santa Cruz," he said. 

In fact during the pandemic, Ngor said that his former teacher was there to talk to him and offer support during a time when he was dealing with health issues in his own family. Ngor said it wasn’t until later that Roman even shared that he’d been hospitalized.  

"During his time of need Mr. Roman did not even mention his hospitalization, and when he told me first I felt a trust that I can only say is the result of us being such good friends," Ngor shared. So he felt compelled to help in some way, following the exemplary actions of his former teacher and now friend.

And he was floored to see the response from the community as he learned that he wasn’t the only one who wanted to give back to the beloved teacher. "Former students, classmates of mine, and random people that simply took the time to read my story started messaging Mr. Roman and I, thanking us for everything we've done and offering support in whatever way they could." 

The donations poured in quickly as people wanted to help. Within hours of launching the campaign, donations exceeded $1,000. "I had this feeling that something special was happening," Ngor shared. "The next day I woke up to dozens more emails and comments, and within a matter of hours we were nearing our goal of $5,300."

As of Tuesday evening, the campaign had raised $7,110.

In an update on the fundraising page, Ngor shared, "I created this GoFundMe as a way to thank Michael and offer support, and we never expected the amount of love and generosity we have received in such a short period," he wrote adding, "Words cannot put into picture the humbling feeling that we continue to experience."

That humbling feeling was also shared by Roman, who Ngor said was currently recovering well. "Mr. Roman has been truly taken aback by all the support and thanks everyone, and now says, that he realizes that, 'I now have a huge extended compassionate family out there.’" 


The entire experience has also reminded Ngor of what can happen when people reach out and offer a helping hand, something Mr. Roman has been seen doing time and time again for his students. 

Ngor said that there was a long list of ways the teacher helped him and countless others. "There are too many memories to reminisce about," said Ngor, "but one thing is clear: He will always extend a hand, in whatever way he can." 

It's a lesson that was demonstrated years ago to so many of Roman’s students, a lesson that has come back to the beloved and respected teacher and continued to be demonstrated long after those students left his classroom.