There’s no shortage of stories about teachers going above and beyond for their students. Whether it’s buying their own supplies or giving haircuts to their students, the truth is it comes with the territory. Educators are now expected to do more than ever, all while often being dramatically underpaid for their efforts.
However many would never consider switching careers due to the satisfaction they receive from watching kids grow and experience life in new and exciting ways. It’s one of the few bonuses teachers can count on year in and year out. It’s that joy that likely helped motivate elementary educator Jim Freeman to recently step up in a major way.
10-year-old student Ryan Neighbors has spina bifida. It’s a condition that has confined her to a wheelchair most of her life, often keeping Ryan from the everyday activities a kid her age should be able to experience.
When Tully Elementary announced their latest trip to The Falls of The Ohio, Shelly knew the chances of Ryan attending were likely slim to none. Enduring several surgeries and missing out on countless field trips and activities with her classmates, Ryan’s mom Shelly was determined to give her daughter a special day of their own. But that’s when Jim Freeman stepped in. Although Freeman isn’t Ryan’s teacher, the kind-hearted staff member reached out to Shelly, offering to carry Ryan on his back for the entire trip.
Thanks to a special carrier that was donated to Ryan, the 10-year-old set off for adventure with the rest of her classmates on a trip she and her family will never forget. Shelly posting about the experience on Facebook, saying “We are sooooo blessed to have an ENTIRE school that is so compassionate and empathetic and NEVER make her feel left out.”
“As soon as we got her strapped in she’s like this is the part I’ve been waiting for” Freeman recalled for news affiliate WLKY. With thousands of comments calling Freeman a hero and an angel, the humble educator says that while this story went viral, there are so many other acts from teachers in districts across the country that will still go unnoticed. “This is just one physical act that you can see, but we do this countless times throughout the school day and throughout the year.”
As parents, we all want the best for our children, but most of all, we just want them to be kids. It’s these gestures, both big and small, that help them experience childhood the way it’s supposed to be: full of wonder and possibility.
Cheers to all the teachers who help to raise the next generation. As always, we’re counting on you more than we should.