I love this story, especially ‘cause it’s true…
In September 2005 a Social Studies teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, Arkansas created an unforgettable event.
When Martha Cothren’s students arrived for first period they were shocked. The classroom was empty—totally—not a single desk. She had permission from the Principal, Superintendent, and Supervisor to remove them.
“Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?” the open-mouthed students asked.”
“You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earned them,” she stated.
“Maybe it’s our grades,” one thought aloud.
The teacher shook her head, “No, it’s not your grades.”
“Maybe it’s our behavior,” someone blurted.
“No, it’s not your behavior,” she declared.
And so it went. Students enter the classroom, first period, second, third. No one had the answer … still no desks.
Word spread quickly, before long TV cameras were filming and reporters were giving their version of a loony teacher with her empty classroom.
By the end of the day students were sitting on the floor. “No one has been able to tell me what they have done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are usually in this classroom,” the teacher smiled. “So, I am going to tell you.”
Teacher Cothren opened the door and stood aside. Twenty-seven U.S. Veterans, all in uniform, marched into the classroom … each proudly carried a student school desk.
The Vets quickly placed the desks in rows and then silently lined up along the wall. With the final desk in place, the students had begun to get the message.
The teacher faced her students: “You don’t have to earn those desks; these guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don’t ever forget it.”
In 2006 the Veterans of Foreign Wars named Martha Cothren their “Teacher of the Year.”
Martha Cothren and her students now write letters and send packages to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
May Your Glass Always Be Half Full