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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.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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