Here are some answers:
1) HotTamalesYum wrote, “When my first graders got back from winter break, they were showing off their new shoes, toys, and other Christmas presents. I had a really sweet student who seemed upset and she eventually broke down to me at the end of the day. ‘I must have been naughty because Santa didn’t bring me anything this year.’ I work in a Title I school [a United States school with provisions for helping children from low-income families], and it was obvious her family couldn’t afford presents. That night I went to Target and bought her some Hello Kitty stuff, which was her favorite. I left the gifts in her backpack and a note saying something to the effect of: ‘I tried coming by your place on Christmas, but you didn’t have a chimney. Sorry I missed you. You were definitely on the good list, so I made a special stop for you. Better late than never! Merry belated Christmas. — Santa.’ She didn’t stop talking about it for months and rocked her Hello Kitty bag to school everyday. From what I could tell, she never suspected it was me.”
dirfsu commented, “I wish politicians and others who complain about teachers and praise standardized testing would listen to stories like these and realize teachers have a better grasp of what’s truly needed than they’ll ever have.”
HotTamalesYum responded with a link to another of her stories:
“It was my first year teaching and I took a job in a Title I elementary school in an inner city. That experience alone changed my perspective on a lot of things, but one student in particular left a lasting impression on me and my life.
“The story begins during my very first parent-teacher conference night. I spent a lot of time preparing individual student data, celebrations, concerns, pamphlets, and baked goods. It was a 7 am-7 pm workday, and I started it all pumped up. This was one of those days I’ve anticipated and prepared for a while.
“6:30 pm rolls around and not a single parent has shown up. After stuffing my face with my own homemade white macadamia nut and chocolate chip cookies, I began angrily packing up my things and watched the clock as it slowly clicked to 7:00. As I start walking out the portable [portable building?] to my car, I noticed a woman hobbling up the ramp. She was mumbling and disoriented, but eventually told me she was ‘Kid A’s’ mother and was here for the conference. My inner reaction to this moment has stuck with me every since.
“At the time, I was angered. I’ve spent the last 12 hours in that portable [portable building?] waiting for this moment. In fact, I’ve been working towards it for years! High school electives, an Elementary Education degree, student teaching experience, etc. No parent shows up, except this one … at the last second and, to me, [she] appears drunk. At the time, I was bitter, angry and resentful.
“Either way, I held the meeting and discussed Kid A’s academics and such. He was a very charismatic child who loved competition and sports. His scores said he was performing on a Kindergarten reading level but he showed strength in mathematics. Although he played the role of the ‘class clown,’ he was respectful and caring towards others.
“The mother ended the conversation very grateful that steps were put in place to strengthen his literacy. Weeks went on and Kid A showed very positive gains. The next month, he became very withdrawn and was falling behind in literacy, math, and even gym. I tried contacting his mother, but her phone was disconnected.
“The day before the state test, the one that decides in third grade if you continue on to fourth, his mother passed away. I found the next day that she was diagnosed with AIDS and died of complications. Kid A was the one who told me … the day after her death. He told his grandfather he wanted to go to school and be with his class. His eyes were red and puffy, but he played it off as if nothing happened. He took the test and continued the facade for a while.
“After some time we got the test results and he ended up failing. This meant that he would have to repeat third grade again the following year. The day he got the results, he asked if I’d have lunch with him. We ate together in the classroom and … now I’m crying … he broke down. He was beyond hysterical. He was just repeating, ‘Enough! Enough! Enough!’ I just held him and cried right by his side.
“I ended up getting someone to sub my class for the rest of the day, while he and I walked and talked around the school. Not only did this kid lose his mother, but also he didn’t know his dad and was now living with his grandfather whom he hated. ‘Why can’t you just adopt me?’ My heart broke.
“There is a light in this story.
“We spent the entire summer working together and he grew a few reading levels (J-M). He was able to retake the test and ended up passing! When we got the results, he looked up at me with watery eyes and said, ‘My mom would have been proud, right?’
“His story has changed my life forever. Despite all the bullsh[*]t I have to go through as a teacher, I believe it’s worth it. It changed my perception of the world around me and myself. I’m far less judgey wudgey and give people the benefit of the doubt. I will never forget ‘Kid A.’”
2) madmanphysics wrote this: “I was 13 and found out my best friend had become addicted to oxy [oxycontin]. I told her dad; he promised not to tell her it was me and intervened. Years later, around 18, she brought up how glad she was her dad caught her.”
3) LovinTexas wrote this:
“A few years ago, a friend lost the lease on her business. She couldn’t find anything suitable in her price range and had to move her business to her home. She lived many miles out of town, so the regular customers found closer options.
“Property tax time rolled around and she didn’t have the money, so I went to the courthouse and paid it for her. I used cash to keep it anonymous.
“I just couldn’t bear the thought that she could lose her house, too.”
4) Miss_Sangwitch wrote this:
“I was with a friend hanging out after work looking for an engagement ring for his fiancé [fiancée?]. He didn’t have a ton of money and I knew that he was on a pretty tight budget but found the perfect ring at an antique jewelry store. Unfortunately, it was more than he had to spend despite haggling down the price a little so reluctantly we left.
“The next day I go back to the store with the difference in hand, tell the shop owner to give my friend a call and tell him she’ll meet his price he offered the other day and say nothing about my secret contribution. He’s such a humble person he’d never be able to accept someone paying for lunch let alone a few hundred bucks.
“I come in to work the next day to see him giddy with excitement that he was able to get the ring he wanted. To this day he has no idea.”
5) kane55 wrote this:
“I used to work with this very nice woman who had gone through a sh[*]tty divorce. Her ex was an alcoholic and abusive and it took a lot for her to get away from him. She had three young kids and was struggling mightily just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. At the time she was in her early 40’s and I was 22.
“Around this time my grandpa died and in his will he left me his car. It was a nice car, a big Buick that you can imagine your grandparents driving around in, but certainly not my style. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I had bought myself a pretty good car only a year before so I didn’t need it. I ended up selling it and got $7,000 for it. I used $2,000 of the money to pay off the balance on my car and pay off a small credit card I had. I then put the rest of the cash in an envelope along with a short note that I typed so there was no handwriting. The note simply said that I admired her for having the guts to leave him. I told her my mom did the same with my dad when I was young and while times were sometimes hard, I am a better person today because of what she did. I hired a courier to deliver it to her. I made a point to keep my identity secret because I didn’t want her feeling like she owed me anything.
“This was on a Friday. Monday at work she couldn’t stop talking about it. She asked if anyone knew where it had come from and what was going on. I don’t think she ever suspected it was me because I was the young guy who was just starting out with my life and I hadn’t told anyone about the car I inherited.
“I was so happy when I saw that she used some of the money to get caught up on bills and then used the rest to take a few classes that got her a couple of certifications and ultimately led to her getting a better-paying job.”
6) MaidMilk wrote this:
“I got a full ride to college. My parents also had money. My best friend at the time was an excellent student from a poor [aka impoverished] family.
“Our last semester, her financial aid ran out. A week after classes started, she got a letter stating that she owed $3k [and needed to pay it] or [she] would be dropped from her classes in one week.
“She was working 50 hours a week at 3 sh[*]tty, part-time jobs just to pay her rent, electricity, and car insurance bills. She absolutely did not have access to that kind of money on short notice — or any notice, really.
“I was also working, but I spent money like water so I didn’t have 3k in cash. I tried to get the college to move my tuition waiver to her, but they wouldn’t do it. My dad heard me on the phone with the finance office and was distressed, thinking I had lost my scholarship.
“He, quite uncharacteristically, demanded to know about the conversation I was having. When I told him, he immediately got on the phone to find out how to pay her bill. (We didn’t know because I had never had a bill before.) The college was not prepared for a third-party payment and said there was no way for him to pay the bill without her being present.
“The next day, he took me out to breakfast and asked me if I was willing to do something that was wrong, for the right reasons. He said that if I would pretend to be my bestie and just play it really stupid as far as my student number and lack of ID, that he would pay her bill so that she could stay in her classes and graduate on time.
“So that’s what we did. It almost didn’t work — they weren’t going to look up ‘my’ student ID number until I turned on the waterworks. When we left, my dad gave me the side eye and was like ‘how many times have I fallen for that sh[*]t?’
“My friend spent the next 3 weeks waiting to be kicked out of her classes and it just didn’t happen. She never knew why, but in the end chalked it up to a glitch of some sort and decided not to investigate further, lest she receive a bill after the fact.
“I’ve never told anyone until this very moment.”
Source: DOntTryMe, “What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone that they never found out about?” AskReddit. 15 May 2016
Also: Natedogg5691, “Teachers of Reddit, Which Student has Left the Biggest Impact on Your Life?” AskReddit. 12015.
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