It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher. Sure, there are some who become teachers because they want the summer off but many take on the profession because it is in their heart. Once they take on the job, they are responsible for shaping the minds of young lives. Perhaps you can remember a teacher who had an impact on you, not because of what they taught but because of the passion they had for it.
A good example of this is Joe Klonowski, a phys ed teacher at an elementary school in New York City. He has a motto for education, “Be the teacher who you needed growing up.” It is something that has made him well known for how he treats the students under his care. That includes on young boy in kindergarten who was being bullied.
“A student had this pencil case that he loved with sequins on it. Another student teased him, saying it was for girls, and he never took it out again. Today I decided to show off my ‘pencil case’ (it’s a bathing suit bag),” he writes.
So as a new PE teacher, I’ve been working closely with one kindergarten class. A student had this pencil case that he loved with sequins on it. Another student teased him, saying it was for girls, and he never took it out again. Today I decided to show off my ‘pencil case’ (it’s a bathing suit bag). from r/pics
We can only imagine how good this child felt when his gym teacher showed up one day with that bag.
“He would sit there and pet it and change the sequins all the time,” Klonowski tells Cafe Mom. “He would walk around and show it to his other classmates, even to me when I would pop into the room.” The teacher explains that a fellow student asked the little boy why he carried a purse. The child explained it was actually a pencil case at which point the other kid told him it was “for girls.”
The kindergarten teacher stepped in when he saw what was happening. It hurt the child and he had already put the pencil case into his backpack and wouldn’t take it out again.
That is when the teacher came up with a plan.
“It was at that point that I knew the class very well, and many of the students, including the bully, were very fond of me,” Klonowski says. “So I decided if I was able to get the pencil case, that I would show it off to the class and hopefully make that student feel comfortable enough to take it back out.”
He had a hard time finding a similar pencil case but he was able to find a bathing suit bag that was just as sparkly. He brought it into the class and showed the students. Suddenly, the little boy was happy again.
“I told him to take it out of his bag and show it to me,” he says. “He ran over and grabbed the pencil case and brought it back to me. At that point I asked him if we could trade so I could look at his case and he could look at mine.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
The other students quickly forgot about picking on their classmate. They were singing a different tune when they said they also had bags but just ‘forgot it at home’.
Klonowski also confronted the bully to let him know what he did was wrong. “I spoke to him and told him how I knew how he picked on that other student and how it wasn’t right,” he says. “Hopefully I at least opened his eyes a little bit!”
The post has gone viral and Klonowski is overwhelmed by the attention. “It was humbling to have so many people praising this deed when I felt that this was something that anyone could have done.”