Every eight-year-old goes through major breakdowns even once in their lives, even if this ‘breakdown’ is only because of a minor inconvenience.
Things tend to get more complicated if you are an eight-year-old with special needs like LJ Compton who is on the autism spectrum and has down syndrome. So one afternoon, when his school bus arrived late to Garfield Elementary School in Marion, Ohio, LJ didn’t know how to process what he was feeling.
Even if LJ’s family is conveniently closer to another school, his mother Steph chose Garfield specifically because of the added care and attention the school staff willingly provides her son. She describes her son as a little happy guy who has a permanent smile on his face, but sometimes, situations overwhelm him and having a meltdown is the only way he knows how to handle it.
The late bus incident was one of those days wherein LJ had a meltdown and his mother wasn’t there to calm him through it. Fortunately, someone else was there to lend a helping hand.
Steph didn’t have any clue as to what happened up until she saw her son’s photo on Facebook. The post was uploaded by a student aide, Amber McKinniss who wrote, “I just had to snap a picture. It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen!”
Stretched out on the pavement was LJ, but he wasn’t alone. John Smith, a longtime teacher of the school, who was just recently assigned to be assistant principal was lying down there with him as well. This amazing and understanding educator didn’t even think twice before looking at LJ in the eyes right where he was, dirt and all.
The photo became viral and the assistant principal was the hot topic of everyone who had nothing to say but good things about him and the school’s obvious dedication to giving all their students a supporting and loving environment.
One student wrote, “Mr. Smith was the best teacher. So glad he carries that with him as a principal! Such a great guy!” Another said, “Mr. Smith is one of my favorite teachers. He’s the best.”
It’s because of times like this that Steph gets reassured of her decision to drive her son to a further school everyday. She said, “It’s really awesome to know from a parent’s standpoint that there are people that care that much about your child.”
The school administrator obviously has a deeper understanding of what kids go through on a daily basis. It’s also clear that they need time and support as they are struggling to learn how to process what they are feeling. Assistant principal John wasn’t afraid to get down on the road or look foolish if it meant that he could get across and support LJ.
We thank school administrators and teachers that treat and understand their students this way. Share this story to spread inspiration to educators all over the world!
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