A thug gave a teacher a teary-eyed hug a few days ago. The hug made the thug a child and saved education from losing a heroic teacher.

The thug was a nightmare in the teacher’s classroom from the first day in September; violent, confrontational, angry, abusive, and defiant.

The teacher stayed professional; prepared, motivated, charismatic, dedicated, and passionate.

As the weeks passed, the teacher’s initial passion was exhausted trying to engage the thug who disrupted the 34 other students in the room from their academic assignments. The nightmare destroyed the teacher in soul-crushing, incremental degrees until the teacher’s spirit was all but dead. A parent teacher meeting was called when the thug’s behavior became dangerous.

“You are worthless,” the dad said to the thug at a parent teacher meeting. The thug’s lip quivered and the teacher’s eyes welled with tears. The meeting ended and the thug left with the parent, but the teacher stayed in the principal’s office with his head in his hands sobbing. He was inconsolable.

Outside the principal’s office, the parent and the thug waited for the teacher. Apologies were shared. A civil handshake was given to the parent. The teacher extended his hand to the thug and the thug clutched the teacher and hugged his hero. The hero hugged a child.

A short time later, this child’s home was on the news and the real nightmare was exposed. The classroom was where child cried for help. The classroom was where the child cried for love. The hero gave both.

The teacher and the thug helped each other with an act of love. The child learned the meaning of compassion from the teacher. What the hero got from the child was a career-saving reminder that teaching is not his job; it is his purpose. And his purpose is to meet the child where he is and take him someplace better.

The story is not over and one can hope it will continue to get better.

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