This teacher says kids' hearts are more important than their reading level. Right on.

A teacher's gift from a student shows that education is about much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Teachers are under enormous pressure these days to get students to meet certain academic standards, starting at increasingly younger ages. Most teachers recognize that a true education involves far more than filling in the right bubbles on an answer sheet, but many feel that their hands are tied by expectations that leave them little room for anything but test preparation.

However, stories like the one that teacher Katie Pearson shared on Facebook remind us all that more important things happen in the classroom than just basic academics.


Her student gave her a box of Ziploc bags—and a reminder of what matters most in her role as a teacher.

Katie Pearson, a first grade teacher at Blue Haze Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas, first described how she was having a bad day when a student presented her with a humble, but meaningful, gift.

Today was rough. Like I don’t cry and I cried 5 times today. I was ready to crawl in a daggum hole. Sometimes or most of the time, as a teacher you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You feel if not everyone of your kids leaves reading and writing on level...that you have done a disservice to them. You feel like you not only failed your students, but the parents, the next teachers, the administrators, etc. You feel like a failure because you didn’t read every day with every student (which is impossible). You feel like a failure because not every student showed huge academic gain. You feel like you shouldn’t be a teacher because your classrooms academic data doesn’t look like the classroom across the hall. You feel like you have set a kid up to fail because they didn’t read a non fiction level 16 with the proper comprehension and text to self connection. You feel the weight of their future on your shoulders.

Well today I realized something that most educators won’t agree with...It’s okay if my students leave my classroom NOT...

Posted by Katie Pearson on Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Then one of her students presented her with a humble, but meaningful, gift.

But today, reality hit me at the end of the day straight in the face. Reality hit me by a 6 year old holding a box of ziplocs. “Miss Pearson. I have you something. ”She hands me this box. “Thank you so much! What are they for?” “Miss Pearson before Christmas you said you were out of ziploc bags at home. I saw your sandwich and chips in the same bag. Nobody needs that. That’s gross. Plus, when we need something, you get it. When we lose our glue, you may not be happy but you get us another one. Or when Joe* eats his pencils, you tell him it’s wrong but you still give him more. You told us that if we love people, we show them. You said real leaders show people. I just want to show you.”

Pearson said it's okay if her students leave her class not reading at a certain level as long as they leave with "a heart that loves others."

Pearson said that her student's gift made her sob.

"Why? Because yes I care if they read but today I realized its okay if they cannot read and write at an unrealistic level because when they leave my classroom, they leave better than they came. It’s okay if my kids can’t retell every non fiction book and make text to world connections because they leave with a tender heart. Sure, the world needs better readers and writers....but our world really needs softer hearts, eager hearts, and willing hearts. Our world needs kids who observe more and learn from it. Our world needs more compassion. So my kids may not all be on level when they leave me...but they all leave me knowing they can be better and that they have the potential within to make this world better."

Being a teacher is so much more than merely helping kids develop academic skills. Dedicated educators care about nurturing the whole child—their heads and their hearts.

"I’d rather have a class leave with a heart that loves others than with the ability to read a DRA 16," Pearson concluded. "Because those ziploc bags mean more to me than an entire class on grade level. Anyone can teach them to read but not everyone will teach them to care. 💕"

Teachers have enormous influence over the children they teach. And the more kids who are taught to care for others and to show it through kind deeds, the better the future world will be for all of us.

Keep up the good work, Ms. Pearson.

via Jules Lipoff / Twitter

Weronika Jachimowicz, 17, is getting a lot of attention for subverting people's expectations of who excels in high school. And that's exactly what she wants.

Jachimowicz was named New York's Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District's 2021 salutatorian. Her yearbook photo next to valedictorian Luke Altman is going viral because of her dramatic Goth makeup and attire.

It all started when assistant professor and writer Dr. Jules Lipoff tweeted out a photo of the valedictorian and salutatorian he saw in a newspaper and it went viral. How many salutatorians have you seen that wear pentagram hoop earrings, a choker, and black devil horns?

The juxtaposition of her next to the bowtie-wearing Altman, makes the photo even more amusing.

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

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