Teachers surprise students with messages of appreciation, record reactions

Posted October 13, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Students at a Kansas City high school were brought to tears when their teachers pulled them out of class, but not for the reason you might think.

Instead of being greeted by a reprimand when they walked into the hallway, they were gifted with a message of love.

Teacher Jamie McSparin works with Oak Park High School’s at-risk sophomores and juniors. She decided she wanted the students to know exactly what they meant to the teachers who’ve devoted their lives to helping them learn.

“Sometimes it can feel like just an exchange of knowledge between a teacher and a student, like you’re just a number, turn your work in, let’s go,” she told Today.

McSparin hoped to humanize that relationship in a way that benefitted both the teacher and the student, so she called upon her fellow teachers to choose a student who inspired them to come to work every day and tell them why — on camera.

Teachers jumped at the challenge, selecting students ranging from the honor roll to regular detention. Armed with a video camera, the teachers pressed record, explained their assignment and expressed their appreciation and admiration for the student they chose.

“The initial reaction from the kids was that they were really startled,” McSparin said, noting that most of the kids thought they were in trouble when told they were needed by a teacher in the hallway. “A lot of students realized, ‘Teachers do care about me.’”

It’s easy to see just how much these teachers care when you watch the messages they delivered to their star student. McSparin’s husband, who also teaches at the school, compiled the exchanges into one inspiring video that has garnered more than 23,000 views on YouTube.

“You’re just the light in the class,” one teacher tells a female student. “You’re smart and you’re funny and you make me want to be a better teacher because you’re an awesome kid.”

“You make me a better human being every time I get to work with you,” another teacher tells her student.

“I appreciate your personal spark that you bring to everything,” said another.

Some students cried, others seemed shocked, but none of them could keep a huge smile from spreading across their face.

“For some of them, it took a little time to process,” McSparin told Today. “They found the teacher a couple days later and told them how they motivated them to do well in school.”

Seventeen-year-old Massyh McCastle, one of the students featured in the video, was selected by the school’s assistant principal.

“I felt a lot better after being told those words,” McCastle said. “I was smiling all over the place for the rest of the day.”

Jessica Ivins is a content manager for and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.


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