Florida Special Needs Teacher Goes Viral

My children had a kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lotano, who paraphrased Maya Angelou to us parents at every annual school Open House. She reminded us that, “Children will forget what you said, children will forget what you did, but children will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s a thought that has stuck with me for years.

It’s obviously a lesson that Chris Ulmer, a special education teacher at Mainspring Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, also takes to heart. Mr. Chris (as he prefers his students call him) starts every school day for his class of eight students by making them feel loved. He spends ten minutes complimenting them, taking time to directly address each child individually. He posted a video of this morning session on his Facebook page, Special Books by Special Kids, and it’s been viewed nearly 36 million times (on his page and in an ABC News story about it) in two days.

His students are all in his class for different reasons – autism, speech apraxia, brain injury, and more – but the respect and compliments he gives them focuses solely on their positive attributes and abilities. His is a model of positive, affirmative behavior and, in the video, Mr. Chris shares that the students now “praise each other”, “never insult one another” and “actively work towards helping each other.” They have learned from his example, and grown from it. “I have seen their confidence and self-worth skyrocket,” he writes in the video.

Shortly after his video went viral, Mr. Chris posted a letter to the class Facebook page, which partly reads:

“I am the teacher praising his students in the recent viral video. This letter is incredibly hard for me to write as I like to keep the spotlight on my students, but I believe this is an extraordinary opportunity that I cannot pass up.

I write this letter early in the morning with a heavy heart and little sleep the past few days so please excuse any errors.

Seven months ago I reached a boiling point. As a special education teacher I have students with a variety of conditions but they all share one common element; they are pure. They represent love and everything that is right in this world. But yet, it seemed as if 99% of society could not see this. One parent even told me that their greatest fear was passing away and leaving their child homeless, wondering the streets and being ignored as if they were a “lightpost”.

I knew I had to do something. I called together the parents of my students and proposed the idea of starting a class blog that openly discussed each diagnosis with access to the children. I fully was aware that this was unheard of and could cause complications for my career. I did not care. These children deserve to be heard, loved and appreciated. The world needs to understand that in many ways, the children have it right. We need to learn from them.

We are all different but we are all in this together.

I love you all,

Mr. Chris”

Whether they remember what exactly he said or what exactly he did, there’s no doubt that these kids will never forget how Mr. Chris made them feel.

You, sir, are 100% Ausome™.

Rachel L. MacAulay

Founder at Challa & Haggis
Still learning that there’s no such thing as perfection in parenting, or in life, though I don’t stop trying. Avid reader; lapsed wanderer; reformed cynic. I believe every day should be filled with children’s laughter.

Related Posts

Woodstock Chimes Autism Story Garry Kvistad, founder and owner of Woodstock Chimes, has won a GRAMMY® Award, played music with The Temptations and started an international company ...
Amazing Things Happen – An Autism Video A beautiful video by the Amazing Autism Project explaining Autism to stimulate understanding and tolerance in future generations. An official selectio...
Elementary Teacher Creates Sensory Chair for Stude... The Raymond Ellis Elementary School in Round Lake, Illinois, recently made waves on Facebook when it posted a photo of one of its teachers with the "s...
The Smith Brothers Use Boxing to Help Spread Autis... Although Liam Smith suffered his first-ever defeat to Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez in the recent WBO light middleweight title bout AT&T Stadium in Dallas...
One Football Player’s Sweet Gesture Goes Vir... The feel-good photo of the week has got to be the one of Florida State University wide receiver Travis Rudolph sitting at a lunch table across from 11...
Michigan’s Lt. Governor Calley Makes Plea fo... Over the last few years, Michigan's Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley, has been at the forefront of pushing for state programs to help individuals wit...
Apple Store Field Trips: Apples, Smiles, and Super... As an Apple Distinguished Educator and the head of Instructional Technology at Wildwood School in New York State—a comprehensive educational progr...
Teacher Tells Student With Autism, ‘These Te... Gail Twist was so surprised, and gladdened, by a letter sent by her son's teacher, that she posted it on Twitter, along with the words: In tears. A le...
11 Things We Can’t Do Without Over a Three-Day Wee... With the three-day weekend upon those of us in the U.S. and the U.K., we thought it would be fun to reach out to some of our contributors and ...
My Autistic Sons Are MY Teachers I always thought that when I became a parent I would spend my days loving my children, helping them to thrive and to progress--helping them to become ...
Ausome™ Teachers Make a Difference. Teachers. The most underpaid professionals on earth. With all respect to other professions, a good teacher is worth 10x any salary approved ...
Moms Who Inspire Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate your Mom. It’s also a day to recognize other Moms. We started this site six years ago, and during that time, we hav...