Over the last year, there have been a lot of viral stories about teachers who have gone above and beyond. The first one I remember was the story attached to the photo above, about a teacher who saw that one of her students wasn’t doing well with virtual school, so she came over to hang out and read with her at a distance. Since then, I’ve heard numerous stories and had my own experience with rockstar teachers as well.

I asked everyone over on @mommyshortssquad to share stories about their kids’ teachers going the extra mile to make their students feel emotionally supported during this crazy time. You can read their amazing and heartfelt stories below. But also consider this quote from a follower named Megan, who left this comment after I posted a meme about a teacher deserving to be paid more for delivering Valentines to virtual kids during a snowstorm:

“I am an organizer at a teachers union in one of the US’s largest urban school districts. My sister and brother are both teachers too. Everyday I talk to teachers who are working too much (and not getting paid for it). 10, 12, 15 hours in a day to just do their regular job — not even gravy shit like Valentines in the snow. They feel like in order to be ‘good,’ they have to be martyrs — work for free, deliver supplies they bought themselves to their students’ homes on their own gas money. Public education in the US is underfunded, under resourced, and relies on teachers’ martyrdom to fulfill its mission. I have mixed feelings about highlighting ‘above and beyond’ stories about teachers because it feeds the societal expectation that, in order to be considered ‘good teachers,’ they have to work for free, spend their paychecks on their students, etc.”

Her stance is understood and noted.

21 Teachers Who Have Gone Above and Beyond this Year:

1) “On the last day of kindergarten, my son’s teacher drove to each student’s house to give them a book she made of their work from the year, along with an animal balloon. She drives a Mini Cooper and her car filled with those balloons is such a sweet, funny memory! Teachers are amazing.” – Carrie

2) “We have a Reading Specialist who was made Gen Ed by the school this year. This meant all the kids she sees for services were out of luck. She said no way! On Fridays, when she is not supposed to teach, she conducts a one hour Google Meet for those students, tutoring them on reading. Most of the kids are dyslexic and desperately need those services. She has been working two jobs while only being paid for one. And let’s be real, she was not paid nearly enough with just the one job! We appreciate her so much. She is making a huge difference in our child’s life.” – Melissa

3) “My daughter’s 1st grade teacher has been teaching hybrid, which means online and in-person students simultaneously. Each month, she does a drive up for the virtual kids, where you can pick up supplies and fun activities to be sure that all her kids are getting the same things.  If a parent can’t make it, she will drop off at their houses.  She starts each day playing the Alicia Keys song ‘Good Job’ and five months later, I still tear up when I hear it come on.  She’s pouring all her love into these kids and I just hope she feels it back from us!” – Liz

4) “Our Principal and Vice Principal have done weekly zoom story times at night for the whole school. And my son’s teacher hand delivered Christmas treats to every student’s home during a huge snowstorm.  It wasn’t expected and we were worried about her safety! But my son was so happy to see her in person. All our teachers and staff have made us feel part of a loving ‘virtual family’ and I am so thankful to them for going above and beyond!” – Tracey

5) “My son is high functioning autistic. He started the year in a Gen Ed class. Our school was virtual, but his teacher was able to make a connection with him. Unfortunately, he declined mentally and academically due to virtual learning, so when they returned to in-person this month, he had to change schools to join a Special Ed program. His Gen Ed teacher made it clear that even though he isn’t technically in the school anymore, he is still a part of her class. She even included him in their Valentine exchange and requested to have a zoom lunch with him one day. I should also add that one day when he had a seizure (he is also epileptic), she brought his materials to our house so I would not have to pick them up and included a gift certificate to a local restaurant so we wouldn’t have to worry about dinner that day. We appreciate her more than she will ever know.” – Jill

6) “My son’s 1st grade teacher has worked tirelessly all year to make virtual learning as engaging as she can for a bunch of wriggly 6 and 7yos. At the beginning of the year, she had a drive through and gave each kid a personalized whiteboard with a Flat Stanley game, but it was a Bitmoji of her. She delivered each of her kids a personalized mask chain around the holidays, and she sent out a form before Valentines Day asking each student to list something nice about everyone in the class. Then she used their answers to create a slide deck that each child could click on and view their Valentines.” – Laurie

7) “One of my closest friends, a middle school spanish teacher, created an instagram account to help engage his students more, knowing they’d be using the internet and social media a lot more! His students LOVE him and even made him a fan account on instagram.” – Meredith

8) “At holiday break, my daughter’s 4th grade cyber teacher emailed and asked our permission to bring the kids gifts. He made a hot chocolate bag (mug, hot cocoa, candy canes and trinket) and personally delivered a bag to each student. Then he stayed to chat with them at a distance outside. A lot of us had never met Mr. Gillis and this blew us all away.” – Brianna

9) “My daughter’s school has 5 virtual kindergarten classes. The teachers have been collaborating all year, but really took it up a notch last week. Monday was innovator’s day (dress up like a scientist), Tuesday was the 100th day of school (dress up like you’re 100), Wednesday was a President’s Day celebration (dress in red, white and blue), Thursday was early Valentine’s Day (dress up in pink/red/hearts), and Friday was Lunar New Year (dress up fancy). Then each day, all of the kids rotated through 5 zoom breakout sessions, where each teacher had a different activity planned for each theme. These five teachers do their absolute best to create a fun and engaging learning environment.” – Tessa

10) “My son has been in school all year, with restrictions, obviously. His kindergarten teacher has organized so many special days with themes for the kids and takes pictures of everything for them to bring home, since parents can’t visit the school this year. The best was seeing that she made each desk look like a jeep so the kids weren’t scared of their windshields on the first day. I can’t believe we got lucky enough to have her THIS year, but also as our son’s first experience in school full time.” – Lauren

11) “My former co-teach partner has done an amazing job teaching Kindergarten virtually. She is tireless in her pursuit of finding engaging activities for the kids. Everything from making gingerbread play doh in December, ‘snow’ in January and t-shirts for each of her students for Valentine’s Day. Her shirt said ‘I teach a bunch of sweethearts’ with each kid’s name on a heart and then she made a shirt for each student with a heart and their name on it. They all wore them on the same day to celebrate over zoom. I hope I’m half the teacher she is!” – Louise

13) “My daughter’s teacher set up a valentine exchange even though the students are fully remote learners. The students dropped off their boxes and valentines to the teacher (the drop off was at the school parking lot). She then took everything home, distributed the valentines and hand delivered them to each student’s home on Valentine’s Day. She also had the students choose something to do for the community. They (4th graders) chose to make valentines for our local nursing home residents. When we dropped off our Valentines for the class, the teacher gave each a packet with all the materials needed. When she delivered the class valentines to our homes, she also picked up the homemade Valentines and then delivered them to the nursing home. She’s amazing and always shows such a sincere interest in teaching the kids.” – Megan

14) “It was the end of last school year. We moved so it was our last year at the school, and we were so sad to be leaving in general, but especially under such weird circumstances. My daughter was devastated she wouldn’t get to say goodbye to her teachers properly. So her current teacher and her teacher from the previous year both arranged visits to our house (the new house is a good 30 minutes from the school) to give her a proper goodbye. She could not have been happier. It was EXACTLY what she needed to leave her old school with a happy heart. She will never forget that.” – Alicia

15) “My kids go to two different preschool programs. My daughter is 2, and her teacher taught my almost 4yo before she started her own home preschool when covid shut down her old class and she lost her job. They did their Valentine’s party on Thursday, and my son (who’s party was supposed to be on Friday), comes with me to pick up his sister every day. We found out right before pickup that my son’s program was closing for 10 days due to a positive exposure of a student’s caregiver, so my son was going to miss his Valentine’s party, and this was the first year he really understood it. He was devastated. When we got to his sister’s pick-up, her teacher saw him crying. When I told her what happened, she raced inside and came out with an extra Valentine’s bag with all the same goodies that my daughter had. She had written his name on it in fancy pen, and told him a sweet story about him being part of their celebrations. She made him feel so special and saved the day.” – Amanda

16) “My daughter’s first grade teacher applied for a grant to get books for group reading, so that both the in-person kids and the virtual students could all read the same books together. She was able to get three books about Poppleton the pig, bagged them up and drove around town to distribute them to each child. It’s such a great way for the kids to feel like they’re doing something together even when they’re not physically together.” – Laura

17) “My daughter’s teacher drove to our house to give her art supplies and to check on her during a 30+ day quarantine.  She told us that she misses her students that are in quarantine so much.  She is an earth angel. Teachers need to be paid better. That’s for damn sure.” – Aubrey

18) “We’ve been in remote learning for the whole year. My daughter’s teacher mails her a note home for every major holiday with a fun little gift. She also has the kids do a few art projects a month. The first time I saw the art projects in our pick up, I shed a few tears because her teacher is doing so much to help the kids have as normal a kindergarten experience as possible. They had a virtual holiday party with hot cocoa and popcorn. She also lets the kids stay on zoom after class just to talk and share. Even virtually, she’s helping my little one learn and grow so much!” – Laura

19) “At the beginning of the pandemic, it was my son’s birthday and even though we hadn’t started zoom classes yet, his teacher called him at home to wish him a happy birthday. Since then, she has showed up at every birthday parade she was invited to for students in the class. She is a gem.” – Sara

20) “My son’s 1st grade teacher visited each child in her class the Friday before Christmas with wrapped presents for them! I couldn’t believe that after a full day of teaching on Zoom, she gave up her Friday evening for this. She spent at least 10 minutes with each student and their family. She has the patience of a saint.” – Courtney

21) “My husband is a technology integrationist at two middle schools. This was a forced change because of budget cuts. He was a media specialist (librarian) at one middle school last year. This would have been hard regardless, but during the pandemic, he lost all contact with his students and has to learn to work with hundreds of new staff at two new buildings. He works so hard because his job is super important, especially since our middle schools have been virtual since last March. But to me, the toughest part is that most parents don’t know him and he knows no students at his new buildings. He’s 100% behind the scenes doing all of this to make virtual learning work. It pains him not to see the kids any longer, and it’s hard to feel like you’re doing enough when no one sees your impact. This all happened right after major budget cuts in tech last year. Now all of a sudden, he’s considered essential and doing the jobs of two different people.” – Claudia

Please share your stories in the comments below!