A high school teacher's reaction to a sleeping student has gone viral for all the right reasons.

A teacher's message has gone viral after he let his student sleep in class — for the kindest reason.

Teachers spend time preparing lesson plans and trying to engage students in learning. The least a kid can do is stay awake in class, right?

But high school English teacher Monte Syrie sees things differently. In a Twitter thread, he explained why he didn't take it personally when his student Meg fell asleep — and why he didn't wake her up.


Screenshots via MonteSyrie/Twitter.

Meg's nap meant she missed an in-class essay, but she turned it in that night. "I didn't beat her up about it. Didn't have to," he wrote. "In a different room, Meg may have been written up for sleeping in class and given a zero for missing and essay, but she wasn't in a different room; she was in my room."

Syrie pointed out that sometimes we have to "trust our instincts, even if it goes against the grain."

Meg is a good student with a lot on her plate. She takes a zero-hour class before the normal school day and does farm chores before that. She runs track. And she's a teenager, with all of the social, academic, and life pressures that go along with it.

Syrie teaches sophomore English in Cheney, Washington. Photo via Monte Syrie.

And she's not alone. During the school year, teens report higher levels of stress than adults, and many students report feeling exhausted trying to keep up with it all.

"I think too often the biggest thing that people forget about high school students is that they are kids," Syrie says. "They're kidskids who are having to grow up way too fast and are having way too much pressure put on them, in and out of school ... even for our best and brightest, that pressure gets to be too much."

Syrie's compassionate story resonated with people because we've all been in a position of needing a little grace.

Syrie's tweets continued, exemplifying how teachers can show kindness and understanding to students. He pointed out, "I can't offer Meg a math class later in the day. I cannot feed her horses ... I cannot run 6 race-pace 300s for her. I cannot spirit away her teen trouble. But I can give her a break."

Syrie says he tries to be that responsive to all of his students. "Because I firmly believe that one size fits all is madness, I adjust to each student, trusting my instincts, trusting what I know," he says. "Regardless of our responsibilities, life is hard, and we all need some grace now and then."

Syrie says he's had a few negative comments, but overwhelmingly the response has been positive from both students and teachers.

Screenshot via Alexa Shaw/Twitter.

Screenshot via Maria Riverso/Twitter.

Screenshot via Mrs. Chow/Twitter.

Syrie has words for those who say that allowing a student to sleep in class doesn't prepare them for the "real world."

Some may question whether letting a student sleep in class without consequence is a good idea. Syrie has a response:

"We are not working in factories, stamping out standardized products," he says. "We are helping young humans — unique individuals — learn about themselves and their worlds. As such, when our young humans face the inevitable pressures of growing up, we need to respond with empathy."

"And if that does not prepare them for the 'real world' as some may suggest, then maybe the world needs to change. I want to live in a world where there's empathy. That's the world I want to live in."

You can read more about the way Syrie is rethinking education on his website.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less