Update: Since the story of Schneider and his fellow teachers has gone viral, the Achievement Schools in Memphis have banded together to celebrate the selfless efforts of their elementary school staff. The schools are now accepting donations to buy a new pair of shoes and an umbrella for the teachers who walk their students home from school each day.
Prepare to smile, because one teacher has gained national attention after literally going the extra mile for his students — and the photographic evidence is as sweet as it gets.
Carl Schneider is an elementary school teacher from Memphis, Tennessee. A photo of him was posted last week to Facebook by Memphis local Tabitha Tudy Jones that quickly went viral. At first glance, it looks like an everyday picture of a dad walking home with his kids. But if you know the backstory, you’d know that it’s actually Schneider, a special-education teacher at Whitney Achievement Elementary School, who voluntarily walks students home after school:
Jones’ candid shot of a teacher going above and beyond was irresistible — receiving more than 800 shares from her private Facebook page in just one week. Whitney Achievement Elementary School reposted the now-viral photo to their Facebook page as it began to make national news.
Crystal Riddle, one of Schneider’s colleagues, commented on the photo:
“Mr. Carl Schneider is a phenomenal young man and amazing teacher! Had the pleasure of working with him last year at Whitney! What you see in this picture only represents a fraction of what he does to ensure the safety of those babies! Can’t thank him enough!!!”
And just when this story couldn’t get any better (or any sweeter), we find out that Schneider isn’t the only teacher at Whitney who takes the time to walk kids home from school. Schneider and four other teachers walk half of the school’s 400 students home each day. These teachers volunteer their extra after-school time to make sure that the 50 percent of the children who live within a two-mile radius of the school, or 200 students, get home safely each day.
All too often we are inundated with terrible headlines involving teachers abusing their power. Like the teacher who allegedly used hot sauce to discipline a student with autism. Or the teacher who was fired for encouraging a class to write a “hate list” for another 13-year-old student on the blackboard. Or the teacher who called a 4-year-old “evil” for writing with his left hand. And that’s just in the past year.
Unfortunately, these headlines tend to overshadow all the selfless teachers who work tirelessly on behalf of their students, without asking for anything in return — like Schneider and his colleagues, or the elementary school teacher who received an overwhelming response to her heartbreaking “I Wish My Teacher Knew” assignment, or the kindergarten teacher who provides food and clean clothing for her students every day.
They’re not compensated for their good deeds (they’re not even properly compensated for the work they are expected to do, as they often begin their careers at a low starting wage with minimal raises) and they’re not looking for special favors. They do it because they care about the children they teach.
If we needed any more proof that teachers need all the support they can get, this is it. Hug a teacher you know, give them a gift certificate for a nice meal, and look them in the eye when you tell them how much you appreciate what they’re doing. These are the teachers who are making a lifelong impression on our children, and they’re also giving parents an invaluable gift: The gift of peace of mind when we send our kids off to school each day.