Many of us believe in the power of paying it forward, but Parker Williams took the term literally when he used his own birthday money to give his teacher a pay raise.
A well-intentioned little boy
Back in 2019, before parents everywhere grew an extra appreciation during the pandemic for all that teachers do, a little boy in Tampa, Florida, decided he wanted to let his teacher know just how special she is. So instead of using his birthday money to buy something for himself, the nine-year-old figured he would use it to give his teacher a raise.
Parker Williams wrote his teacher, Mary Hall Chambers, a note and placed $15 in bills inside a plastic zip lock bag.
Dear Mrs. Chambers, I don’t think that teachers get paid enough for what they do so will you accept this gift?
Parker Williams’ note
Williams’ parents had no idea what their kid had done. They only found out about his good deed later, when his teacher returned the note with a special note of her own.
“I can’t accept this but appreciate the gesture, Parker,” she responded. “Students like you are the reason I teach.”
Spreading the word
Parker’s father, Darrell, shared the note on Facebook, and local news stations picked up the story. Before long they were interviewing the family. “The first reaction was my eyes welling up with tears,” Parker’s mom, Jennifer Williams, told WFLA in an interview.
“I think she’s a really kind teacher and she has her own way of teaching and she spends time on everybody,” the boy added when asked why he did what he did.
Even though Mrs. Chambers didn’t accept the gift, Parker says that he still feels proud of his actions. “It made me feel really nice and good,” he said.
I think more people should be nice because it’s just a better thing to do than being mean.
Later, ABC News spoke with Chambers, who revealed that when she first saw the money she was confused. “When I looked at the note I said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen,’” she told the outlet. “I read the little note and I said, ‘Parker, this is so sweet and such a kind gesture… I can’t take your money, but I really appreciate you looking out for me.’”
Jen Williams also revealed to ABC News that her son’s teacher often went above and beyond the normal school hours in order to communicate with them and to ensure their son was set up with everything he needs.
“Mrs. Chambers is emailing us many evenings, giving us ways Parker can improve, and things he’s done well,” she said. “It’s becoming more of a 24/7 type job, but they’re getting paid on the lower end of the pay scale.”
They are not rewarded entirely for the amount they [are] helping develop the next generation of children becoming adults.
Kids are always listening
While Parker may not have run his raise idea by his parents, it’s probably safe to say that he was influenced by their way of thinking. Kids are always listening to our conversations, and they’re quick to model our behaviour. The fact that Parker wanted to give his teacher more money for the amazing job she was doing speaks volumes to how much his parents probably appreciate her hard work as well.
It’s a valuable lesson when it comes to the way we speak around our own children, but also in terms of how we view those in society who have underappreciated jobs. Some may be quick to judge teachers for taking time off on holidays and over the summer, but the long, unpaid hours they clock in order to mould these future kids also can’t be discounted. It’s not just teachers either; there are so many people who volunteer their time or put in extra hours because they’re passionate about what they do or they want to help.
So the next time you’re deciding whether to gift that teacher in your life something special for the holidays, or you see that they’ve spent extra time with your kid in order to help them, consider taking a second to stop and thank them for the amazing job they’re doing. Odds are they probably don’t hear it enough.
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