Goodman said, "You should've seen the look on his face when he brought the money to me. He had these huge eyes, and really didn't know what to think."
Goodman called the newspaper's circulation office to see if perhaps a carrier or some other Advocate employee had mistakenly misplaced some money. No one had. A check was also made with school employees, but no one there knew where the money came from, either.
Keep the money
On Friday, a reporter visited Zach at school and told him the money was his to keep. He looked down at the folded stack of $5 bills Goodman laid in front of him and seemed surprised that the money he had been congratulated for turning in was now being given back to him.
"Zach, you know that you're not in trouble, right? You get to keep the money now. They don't know where it came from or who put it there, and they're here to talk to you because you did a good thing," Goodman tried to explain.
Zach at first appeared confused about why someone would want to talk to him about doing what he said "was just the right thing to do".
Goodman has been a teacher at Mercer Elementary for 16 years and said she wasn't surprised that Steele chose to handle the situation the way he did.
"Kids are normally very honest, so I'm not really shocked. But I am happy that he did bring it to me, and I think it just shows his good character," she said."
Zach spread the money out on the open newspaper in front of him. It was becoming clear to him that he now had $30 to spend. He smiled and said "I, um... I really don't know what to do with it. I really like those remote control trucks, you know those?"
Goodman winked and asked teasingly, "So, Zach, are you going to give any of it to your little brother, Dylan?"
"Heck no," he replied without skipping a beat.
As the school day was coming to a close, Steele was sitting by his money and smiling for the camera. This ended quickly when his classmates returned to the room, yelling and taunting Steele to share his money.
He quickly scooped up the money, folded it, stuck it into his front jeans pocket and said, "I probably need to put it away now, don't 'ya think?"