Tori Nelson teaches at Winlock Miller Elementary School in Washington State. Earlier this week she saw her student Matthew Finney sitting outside wearing a winter cap and all hunched down, refusing to go in. She noticed he’d had his head shaved. When she tried getting him go in, he refused.
He couldn’t go in wearing his cap since they are not allowed inside the school. But he just wouldn’t hear of it.
When Nelson tried digging in to the reason behind his vehement resistance, she learned he’d gotten a buzz cut for the summer and was teased by a fifth-grader on the bus in the morning. He didn’t want to go to class and get teased by other kids.
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She tried convincing him but he wouldn’t budge. So she made a deal with him. “Finally I said, 'If you take off your hat off and come to class, I’ll let you give me a buzz cut too,'” she said. “I figured it’s just hair, and mine is already short anyway. I might as well get it shorter in time for the warm weather.”
Matthew was more than willing to strike the deal and went in. True to her words, Nelson and another teacher gathered all the fourth-graders during recess and let Matthew shave her head. Now if anyone made fun of Matthew they would be making fun of her as well.
“It was a lot of fun for the kids, and it helped Matthew feel better about himself,” she said. “You have to do what it takes to reach children. Teaching isn’t just about reading and writing; it’s about self-esteem and accepting differences.”
Now that goes beyond the call of duty and one can only admire a teacher of such dedication. However this is not the only time Nelson has gone above and beyond for a student. She once had a student in her class who was too poor to wear something different every day. Trying her best not to make him feel awkward or out of place, Nelson would wear same clothes to school every day as well.