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11 times teachers totally blew us away with love for their students.

If children are our future, what does that make teachers?

I think we'd all agree that the people in charge of teaching the next generation are pretty important. Yet educators are still under-appreciated and underpaid.

Thankfully, that doesn't stop them from being amazing.


Not a day goes by that we don't hear an incredible story of a teacher going way above and beyond for her students. They pay for supplies out of their own pockets. They work extra hours to help kids who are falling behind.

And that's not even the half of it.

Here are 11 times teachers completely blew us away with their creativity, generosity, and passion for the job.

1. A gym teacher got the whole class cheering a boy with cerebral palsy.

GIF from Simon Curran/YouTube.

It was race day at Colonial Hills Elementary School. Matt Woodrum, who suffers from cerebral palsy, wanted to run, but he quickly fell behind and began to struggle.

John Blaine, his gym teacher, jogged up to him to offer some encouragement, rather than pull him to the side.

Pretty soon, the whole class was trailing Matt as he ran, with John leading the cheers as they all crossed the finish line together.

Warning: Watching the full video may cause a severe case of the cries.

2. These teachers transformed their students' lockers into literary works of art.

Photo by Poma Magician/Flickr.

Teachers at Biloxi Junior High spent one summer painting over an entire hall of lockers, decorating each like the book spine of a famous literary work, including a few modern classics they knew students would like.

They wanted to give the kids something fun to look at and get them pumped up about reading.

"We love the students here and it brings interest and gets them excited about coming to school," one teacher told WLOX.

3. This kindergarten teacher asks her kids two important questions every single morning.

Image from "The Ellen Show."

Sonya Romero teaches kindergarten in a poverty-stricken area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. When her kids show up in the morning, first she asks, "Have you eaten today?" Then, "Do you need anything to wear?"

She helps out with extra clothes, snacks, and basic care for every kid — out of her own pocket.

"We usually spend about the first hour of our morning getting ready for the day," she told "The Ellen Show."

4. This biology teacher wears wacky outfits to get her students excited to learn about the human body.

Image from Debby Heerkens, used with permission.

It can definitely be a challenge to get kids to pay attention to an important lesson. That's why Debby Heerkens, a biology teacher in the Netherlands, stood on a table during an anatomy lesson and stripped off her clothes.

Underneath? An anatomically accurate spandex suit featuring all the muscles of the body. And another one beneath that showing bone structure.

Her method might have been a little odd, but I'm sure her students didn't forget that lesson for a long time.

5. This gym teacher got his kids to exercise by breaking out the "Whip/Nae Nae."

Image from Jared Paschall/YouTube.

Jason Paschall, a gym teacher at Harvest Elementary School in Alabama, needed a fun way to get his students moving and building good exercise habits.

So he put on their favorite song and figured out how to incorporate some extra cardio into the routine. The results? Hilarious, adorable, and a great workout!

He even filmed it and put it on YouTube so other teachers around the country could use the routine.

6. One of his students was bullied, so he read a gay fable to the whole class.

Omar Currie, a third-grade teacher from North Carolina, overheard some of his students calling one boy "woman" and "gay." So he sat them all down and read the famous and controversial "King & King," a children's fairy tale that depicts a same-sex relationship.

Omar wasn't thinking about starting a controversy. He just wanted the kids to think more carefully about how other people feel.

"The moral is to treat people well, no matter who they are," he told The Huffington Post.

7. A sex-ed teacher wasn't allowed to talk about condoms ... so he talked about socks instead.

Always wear a sock. Photo by Mark/Flickr.

Sanford Johnson was in the middle of sex-ed training when the instructors told him he wasn't allowed to talk about proper condom use.

"No problem," he thought. And so he made this video to teach kids how to properly put on a sock if they were to ever "be engaged in a sock activity."

Safety first, kids. Here's the excellent lesson in its entirety.

8. Chris Ulmer compliments all of his special ed students each and every morning.

Image from Latest News/YouTube.

Chris teaches special education at a school in Jacksonville, Florida, and he says sometimes the kids can feel like outcasts. So he starts every day by showering each student with genuine compliments.

"I noticed the kids were always more motivated, happier, and better-behaved on [the days that began with affirmations]. So we started doing it every day," he told ABC News.

Um, I think we'd all love it if our days started like that. Kudos to Chris for giving a little extra love to some kids who really need it.

9. One of her kids told her she couldn't understand him because she was white. So she changed her entire approach.

Photo by Anthony Easton/Flickr.

Emily Elizabeth Smith, a fifth-grade elementary teacher from Texas, recently accepted a big-time teaching award. In her acceptance speech, she talked about a moment that changed her forever.

"Things changed for me the day when, during a classroom discussion, one of my kids bluntly told me I couldn't understand because I was a white lady," Smith said. "I had to agree with him." She says she went home and cried.

From then on, she made some big changes. Together, they read Langston Hughes. They studied Latino culture. They talked about the crisis in Syria. They explored ideas that reflected a more diverse and global curriculum.

She was already a good teacher, but her willingness to admit her own shortcomings turned her into a great one.

10. These brave teachers surprised their students with an amazing flash mob of "Don't Stop Believin'."

GIF from Ryan Radford/YouTube.

Being an awesome teacher doesn't always have to be so serious. Take this group from Walnut Grove Secondary School, who put on a fabulous rendition of the "Glee" version of "Don't Stop Believin'."

Their dance moves (and their enthusiasm) are actually really impressive, and the kids absolutely gobble it up. It's a must-watch.

11. This teacher literally crosses rivers to get to her students each day.

Image from GMA News and Public Affairs/YouTube.

Elizabeth Miranda of the Philippines might just take the cake for being the most dedicated teacher ever. Each and every school day, she walks two hours through jungle and crosses five rivers just to reach the students in Sitio Barogonte, an extremely remote village.

And you thought your commute was bad.

She's the only one close enough to be their teacher, so she had to find a way to make it work. And she has.

Let's give it up for the teachers, huh?

There are so many who will never make it on a list like this or to the front page of the Internet with some brilliant act of heroism. But just showing up day in and day out and dedicating themselves to helping kids get the education they deserve is more than heroic enough.

Pass these stories along and help our teacher friends know that their hard work is appreciated.

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Three women, three MS journeys: How multiple sclerosis looks different for everyone

Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.

Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga, Nathalie and Gina all have MS, and their experiences show how differently the disease can manifest.

True

It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.

Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.

All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.

To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.

woman with horse, woman riding horseGina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi

Gina—Hamburg, Germany (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2017)

When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.

“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”

As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.

“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.

Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.

“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”

To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.

Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.

Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.

Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.

woman in wheelchair holding medal, woman rowingNathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi

Nathalie — Pennes Mirabeau, France (diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2002)

Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.

“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”

However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.

“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.

She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”

By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.

Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.

“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.

Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.

“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”

woman exiting water after swimming, woman with great daneHelga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga—Johannesburg, South Africa (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2010)

When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.

“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”

In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.

“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.

However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.

Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.

Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.

“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”

Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.

MAT-GLB-2301642-v1.0-05/2023

This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.

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