Being a teacher or school administrator takes a special set of skills. A passion for educating children is important. Patience is essential. But perhaps the most important traits one can possess are empathy and compassion. Those were both on full display recently when a photograph of an Ohio assistant principal went viral for all the right reasons.
Students at Garfield Elementary in Marion, Ohio were preparing to head home for the day, but an issue caused their bus to be delayed. It’s enough to make any youngster frustrated, but 8-year-old LJ was particularly perturbed. LJ is a third-grader who lives with Down syndrome and autism, but his mom Steph says he’s usually happy and outgoing, telling local affiliate WCMH “If he’s not smiling or laughing…which is most of the time, there’s something really wrong.” LJ was laying down on the sidewalk and was understandably exhausted from the long day.
So newly appointed administrator Mr. Smith, who had previously been a teacher in the district, saw an opportunity to get on his students’ level… literally. Smith dropped down to the concrete and laid down next to LJ while they waited. Another Garfield educator snapped a photo, sending it to LJ’s mom who later posted it to her Facebook page.
The post has since been shared hundreds of times, with several local parents commenting on how awesome of an impact such a small gesture can truly make.
LJ’s mom Steph sharing in an interview “It’s really awesome to know from a parent’s standpoint, that there are people that care that much about your child. To get down on the ground, and lay on the ground with them to make sure that they’re alright.”