Teachers are so much more important than they get credit for. Not only is it their job to dispense information to kids, but they can also be cheerleaders, parental figures, and support systems for kids who aren't getting what they need at home. It's hard to overstate the importance of good teachers in kids' lives, and this story proves it.
A recent AskReddit thread asked people to share the most wholesome things they have ever seen, and this person's very moving story might take the cake. 1drose took the time to tell us the story of the teacher he had in high school who may have been known as the tough, no-nonsense teacher but who was there for him when he needed it most.
"I had a teacher in high school who had a reputation as being the super tough/mean, older African American lady," he wrote. She was a health teacher, and there was a mandatory CPR class that they had to pay for. He explains that "there was no way I could pay for anything in those days." But when it came time to do CPR, she told him to go with the other students. Very quietly and without making a fuss, she had paid his way so he could take the class with the other students.
And that was just the first of the many subtle ways in which she made him feel implicitly supported and accepted. "Later in the year, I fell asleep in her class," he wrote. But instead of yelling at him or getting him in trouble, she realized that he was probably not getting the rest he needed at home, so she chose to support him instead.
"It was a home game day (basketball), and she told me to lay back down after the bell had rung," he wrote. "It was the last period of the day, she told me she'd wake me up before I had to report to the gym. She dimmed the lights, and played some light jazz while she did her work at the computer. I hadn't been sleeping well at home and I'm guessing she knew. I woke up when she brought the lights back up and she handed me one of her 'cup of soups' she had warmed up."
They never really spoke much about his situation, "but she had my back and I made sure she knew I had hers." Sometimes, that kind of understanding is all kids need to feel like they can succeed. Good teachers understand that for many kids who "act out," there are underlying causes, whether it's family issues at home or something else. This teacher clearly knew that this all this young man needed to succeed was a little extra support.
And she knew how to give it to him without making a huge deal of it. I'm sure it's not easy for high school boys to ask for help. She was intuitive to know that he probably wasn't going to open up to her. So she was just there when he needed someone.
But the story isn't over yet. He describes the most wholesome part of the story: "On senior night, they introduce the players and say some stuff about em as they walk to center court, typically with parents arm in arm." But his parents weren't there with him on senior night, and his teacher knew that.
"When it was almost my time to walk," he wrote, "she saw that I was alone. Bless her heart, she about fell down from her seat running toward me. She put her arm through mine and just looked forward, chin up proud as hell as they read my stats/grades/etc. I remember that walk and how I wish I had a picture or recording from that day showing how big I must have been smiling."
He continued, "My friends' mothers had tears in their eyes. They made sure to invite me to dinner with them after the game and I made sure it was OK that I brought my teacher. She politely declined and just told me she was proud of me." I'll give you a minute to wipe the tears out of your eyes. How amazing is this story?
After he graduated, he went back to visit this teacher that changed his life. Every time he went, he'd "bring flowers and/or food and made sure to do it in front of students and made sure they knew to respect her." When teachers end up with reputations for being "tough" or "mean," they can often be hard to shake.
I'm sure it meant a lot to her that he expressed his appreciation for everything she did for him out of the kindness of her heart, but as a teacher, I know that she was committed to doing everything she could to make sure her students were successful, and this was just another part of her job. We need to realize and appreciate the lasting effect that teachers have on the lives of their students...and pay them accordingly!