It was a simple photo taken of a special education teacher in Frayser, Tenn., that went viral.
Carl Schneider. And he has been accompanying his Whitney Achievement Elementary School students the nearly two miles they walk home every day for the past three years.
Schneider has had photos taken of him before, but this one was sent to WHBQ FOX13 Memphis and posted to its Facebook page. The photo has more than 27,000 likes and nearly 14,000 shares.
Schneider told FOX13 it’s helped break the formal boundaries of teacher-and-student and build a more open relationship with the kids. — MyFoxMemphis.com
“I have a student on a behavior so every day I give his dad a copy of his behavior sheet and we have a quick debrief about the behavior of the day,” said Scheider. “I don’t teach kindergarten but I have 3 to 4 kindergarteners who look for me every day and we all hold hands and walk together*.”
Schneider says he “felt silly” about all the attention given to him because of what he deems a minor act. To him, what he is doing is mutually beneficial. He helps his students stay safe while he and his fellow teachers build rapport with them on their two-mile walk home.
“We can just get to know the kids and talk about what they did over the weekend or how their behavior was at school today or what they learned,” says Schneider.
It is exactly that perspective that results in this photo going viral. Schneider sees no need to share what he is doing because, to him, publicity is not his focus. He is looking out for the well-being of his students with a pure heart, something that often doesn’t make it to the mainstream media because no one is going out of their way to share it.
“Years ago, I taught 5th grade at Lindsey Elementary School in GA and because (the) neighborhood was pretty bad, our principal and many teachers walked the kids home, EVERY.. SINGLE.. DAY…” commented Facebook user Marcie Higgins Miller. “Working at that school changed me for the better in so many ways.”
In an era of social media in which it’s easy to advocate on behalf of anything from the comfort of your living room, these teachers are showing what it means to actually go out and do something to make a difference.
Schneider has four other teachers helping him walk the 40 student’s home: Kevin Sullivan, Auriel Rolle-Polk, Allison Thompson and Valeria Bostick. All of them wave and shout “hello” as they walk by not only parents but also neighbors passing by. — MyFoxMemphis
These children probably don’t recognize the impact of this act now, but it will shape who they become as adults. Instead of walking home alone in a dangerous neighborhood, these kids get to hold hands with their teachers and talk about their day. They know someone cares about them and that will make all the difference in the world.
“When you build healthy relationships with students, with parents, with partners in the community, that is how transformations take place,” says Principal Debra Broughton.
It’s a beautiful example of what it means to truly care.