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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

8 Heartwarming Ways Teachers Have Gone Above and Beyond for Their Students

Lesson-planning is just the beginning for these incredible role models.

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Nicest-Things-Teachers-Have-Done-for-Their-StudentsGrisha Bruev/Shutterstock

Bikes for all

When one of Katie Blomquist’s students at Pepperhill Elementary School told her he couldn’t afford a bike, her heart went out to him. But realizing he likely wasn’t the only kid in the Title I school with the same problem, she hatched a plan: give every student in the school a bike. With the help of a GoFundMe page and bike donations, she raised $80,662 and gave a bike to all 650 kids at the school. Restore your faith in humanity with more heartwarming stories.

Are teachers this nice in your hometown? Then help us in our search for Nicest Place in America by nominating it today! If chosen, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader’s Digest!

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Helping from inside out

Born with the rare genetic condition prune belly syndrome, eight-year-old Natasha Fuller had been going through dialysis for years while waiting for a new kidney. When her parents posted about her problem on Facebook, the story caught the eye of Jodi Schmidt, a third-grade teacher at Natasha’s school. Schmidt got tested and learned she was a match! About a year later, she made a successful transplant, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter.

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Nicest-Things-Teachers-Have-Done-for-Their-Students mirtmirt/Shutterstock

The sneaky bully stopper

When Glenn Doyle Melton, the blogger behind, visited her son’s fifth-grade math teacher, she expected discussions about teaching style and learning beyond the textbook. What she didn’t expect was to learn about how the teacher stopped bullying. At the end of every week, the students wrote down the names of four kids they’d like to sit with the next week, along with the name of someone who had been a star classroom citizen. The teacher was the only one who got to read the answers. To the students’ knowledge, their teacher was just figuring out her seating chart. In truth, though, she was silently fighting bullying. The teacher would analyze the papers for patterns like who no one asked to sit near, who suddenly stopped getting requested, or was never voted for as the good citizen. The routine helps her figure out which students are lonely or being bullied—and which are doing the bullying.

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Checking work and writing checks

On a whim, third grade teacher Nicole Bollerman entered a Capital One contest asking entrants to share their wish for others on social media. Her entry was a photo of her students, captioned: “My #wishforothers is that my voracious, adorable, hardworking, loving scholars all leave for their December break with a book in their hand. Their love for reading and life is contagious and I would love for them to have the gift of a book they love to read over break.” When she won the contest, Capital One a book to every student in the class—plus $150,000 for Bollerman. But instead of keeping the money for herself, the teacher instantly donated it back to Up Academy, the charter school where she works. She helped the school decide how to spend the money, including building a computer lab decked out with new technology, according to

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New way to take notes

English teacher Brittni Darras was devastated to hear one of her Rampart High School students was in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Desperate to help in any way, the teacher wrote a letter to the student, praising her personality and school success. The mom told Darras that after reading the note, her daughter had cried and said she didn’t think anyone would miss her after she was gone. The reaction sparked an idea for Darras. She spent the next two months writing personalized handwritten notes for all 130 of her 9th- and 10th-grade students, expressing how special each one was to her. She posted a picture of the letters on Facebook, and one student commented: “I’m happy to be part of Rampart because of loving teachers like you Ms. Darras. It’s not everyday that a teacher would take the time to sit down a think about every single student they have, let alone tell them how much they love them. You have made a huge difference in suicide awareness ❤️ Thank you.” Read other true stories that will remind you why teachers are so amazing.

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Nicest-Things-Teachers-Have-Done-for-Their-StudentsGina Smith/Shutterstock

Saying “I do” to teaching

Kinsey French was going through some major life changes. Not only was it her first year teaching at Christian Academy’s Providence School, but she was about to get married. Her six students, all of whom have Down syndrome, were dear to her heart, so she wanted them to be there on the big day. But she didn’t just have them siting in the pews—so she invited all six to be a part of the wedding as flower girls and ring bearers. “They were like family to me. They were my first class and they’ve been my only class and so I knew I couldn’t have a special day without them,” French told WLKY.

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Getting personal

Kyle Schwartz knew that many of the third graders she taught in her Denver, Colorado, classroom came from low-income homes. But beyond that, she didn’t know much about their home lives. To get them to open up about any potential struggles, Schwartz asked her students to finish the prompt “I wish my teacher knew …” The students handed in answers like “I wish my teacher knew how much I miss my dad. He was deported to Mexico when I was three years old” and “I wish my teacher knew I don’t have pencils at home to do my homework.” Schwartz posted a picture of the answers to Twitter, using the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew. That tweet sparked a movement, not only from other teachers following her lead, but also from therapists, Coast Guard admirals, and more using similar prompts for their professions.

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Nicest-Things-Teachers-Have-Done-for-Their-StudentsPIMPUN TAWAKOON/Shutterstock

Secret handshakes

After Barry White Junior noticed Lebron James swapping personalized handshakes with his teammates, the fifth-grade literacy teacher wanted to bring the ritual to his classroom. He made a secret handshake with a student from another class in the Charlotte, North Carolina, school. That student loved the little ritual so much that she sometimes got in trouble for being late because she didn’t want to leave before doing the handshake. When White realized how much it meant to that student, he decided to create a different handshake with every kid in all three of his classes—plus other teachers, volunteers, and students in the school. He has dozens to remember but says muscle memory keeps him from forgetting. The handshakes pump up the kids for class and build a bond between teacher and student. The most critical component is the relationship, the rapport you build with your students because sometimes it can go underrated or overlooked,” White told WCNC.

Are teachers this nice in your hometown? Then help us in our search for Nicest Place in America by nominating it today! If chosen, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader’s Digest!

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.