Heart Warming Teacher Story

I’m not typically someone who’s into heart warming stories, but my wife told me one night about her teacher colleague that I thought I’d share. If anyone asks, I laughed and didn’t get misty eye when she re-told me this story.

Recently hitting 40, I’m having a lot of adjustments in my lifestyle. I’ve always been good at sports, and have never thought about my weight until now. My wife is in the same boat. She’s always been very thin and in great health. So as a way to stay connected and work out, we do long walks just about every night. We went out for teppanyaki that night with some friends. After a huge meal, we went for a late walk.



The Penguin That Learned To Fly

My wife is a one of the three 3rd grade teachers at her school, all of which are her good friends. Her school had something called field day yesterday. All of the teachers were setting up the event, when a young man approached my wife’s friend and colleague, Amy. This young man came up to her and said, “Hi Mrs. Vargas, do you know who I am?”. Of course when a teacher hears this, they automatically suspect former student, but knowing someone when they are 8 and now in their 20’s isn’t always so easy to distinguish.

After a few seconds, she figured it out and gave him a big hug. Matt, a former student of Amy’s just graduated college and he came back to see his favorite teacher. He told her that he still thinks about her and wanting to thank her for essentially saving his life. They talked for awhile and caught up, and Amy told him at the end of their conversation that she had his penguin. It was an art project that they did in the 3rd grade. For almost 15 years she had kept it for him.


My wife was close by and over heard most of the conversation and wasn’t sure what this penguin thing was about. So Amy filled her in. Apparently Matt as a child growing up, he was abused physically, mentally and verbally by his parents. Matt’s father was former military and would make Matt run laps around the school nearly every day before school started. Mind you, Matt was 8 years old. It seems that the whole teacher school community knew what was going on and tried to insulate him as much as they could from his parents. They could never prove physical abuse although CPS had been called. Everyone knew it was not a good environment, so they did everything they could to help.


Matt’s father was extremely strict on him. He didn’t want Matt doing any art projects or anything of that nature when he was in school. His father instructed him to do math problems and other similar activities when the teacher was assigning art projects to the class. One of the projects Amy did was to do a paper mache penguin. Amy was a bit of a Penguin nut, and talked and read about them to her kids a lot. So the kids grew in their respect for them. Matt, who really appreciated and loved Amy wanted to do this art project. Amy told Matt, not worry about it. You’re going to do it. I’ll hold on to it, and when you’re ready, come back to me and I’ll give it to you.

So Matt of course was ecstatic and made his penguin. Amy saved it as promised in her classroom for 15 years. Matt just graduated with a degree in human services, very likely the opposite of what his father wanted, but Amy said he seemed extremely happy and grateful for his 3rd grade teacher.

Like I said… no misty eye kids.


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