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Florida shooting heroes: 3 coaches, teachers gave lives for students

The athletic department at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost a big chunk of its coaching staff -- and an even bigger chunk of its heart -- during the Valentine’s Day shooting that claimed the lives of its athletic director, cross country coach and assistant football coach, in addition to 14 students.

All three men, Chris Hixon, Scott Beigel and Aaron Feis, have been hailed as heroes for shielding and protecting students during Wednesday’s mass shooting. The accused shooter, former student Nikolas Cruz, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

>> Read more trending news

Aaron Feis

Feis, 37, of Coral Springs, was one of the first victims publicly named in the aftermath of the massacre. The school’s football department announced the assistant coach and security guard’s death on social media.

“He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot,” the announcement read. “He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”

The Palm Beach Post reported that Feis was shot after throwing himself between students and the gunman. He died in surgery later that night.

Willis May, the school’s head football coach, said that he heard Feis respond via walkie-talkie to the original call reporting the shooting, in which someone asked if the loud noises they heard were firecrackers.

“I heard Aaron say, ‘No, that is not firecrackers.’ That’s the last I heard of him,” May said

Feis appeared to be familiar with guns. His Facebook page, which has been turned into a memorial to him, depicts him as a gun enthusiast.

He once shared a news story about an Oklahoma school district that sought to deter gun violence by allowing some school administrators to carry guns on campus, and by posting signs warning the public of that fact.  

In 2016, he also posted a Duck Dynasty-themed image that stated, “America doesn’t have a gun problem -- it has a sin and self-control problem.” 

Feis also expressed pride in his position as a football coach.

“A coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime,” one image read. 

May described Feis as just such a leader, according to the Washington Post. The head coach called Feis a “hardcore” coach who loved working with the players. 

He also described him as loyal and trustworthy.

“He had my back,” May said, according to the Post. “He worked hard. Just a good man. Loved his family. Loved his brother. Just an excellent family man.”

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel also praised Feis, who he knew personally.

“I coached with him. My two boys played for him,” Israel said during a Thursday news conference, according to NBC News. “I don’t know how many adults will go, but you’ll get 2,000 kids there. The kids in this community loved him. They adored him. He was one of the greatest people I knew. He was a phenomenal man.”

Feis, who also played football at Douglas as a student, returned to his alma mater as a coach three years after his 1999 graduation, according to his bio on the school’s athletics page. He spent his entire coaching career there.

A GoFundMe page honoring Feis was created Thursday and, in less than 24 hours, had raised more than $76,000 of the $100,000 goal. The cash will go to his family.

Feis is survived by his wife, Melissa, and their daughter, Arielle. 

Chris Hixon

Like Feis, Hixon rushed toward the gunfire instead of away from it when the gunman started shooting. The 49-year-old athletic director, who lived in Hollywood, also filled in as volleyball coach and served as a security monitor when needed.

It was that security role that likely put him in the line of fire, friend and former colleague Dianne Sanzari told the Associated Press

“While he was a security monitor, he did the very best he could to also serve in that athletic administrator role,” Sanzari told the news station. “He loved his family; he loved his job. Chris was just amazing.”

Hixon, who also served as the school’s wrestling coach, pitched in wherever he could, according to those who knew him. His dedication led to him being named the Broward County Athletic Association’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2017. 

A Naval reservist, Hixon was also deployed to Iraq about a decade ago. 

“He loved being an American and serving his country, and he instilled that in our kids,” his widow, Debra Hixon, told CNN

She said he also loved giving back to the community, particularly when it came to his students. He gave students rides or lunch money when needed, and would open up his family’s home to them.

“Every one of those students, he thought of as his own kid,” Debra Hixon said

Besides his wife, Hixon leaves behind his own two children, including a son with Down syndrome, ABC News reported

“Chris is probably the nicest guy I have ever met,” Coral Springs High School Athletic Director Dan Jacob told ABC News. “He put the needs of everyone else before his own.”

Similar sentiments could be found on Debra Hixon’s Facebook page, where she wished her friends a Happy Valentine’s Day just hours before her husband was slain. 

“Hope everyone has a warm and fuzzy day!” she wrote. 

Instead of returned warm wishes, the comments on her post are comprised of condolences from friends and strangers alike.

“Debbi, Chris was one of the best people I ever had the pleasure to work with,” one woman wrote. “My heart goes out to you and your family. MSD, the Broward school board and, indeed, the world, are all dimmer -- LESS -- today. My heart aches for you.”

Since the shooting, Debra Hixon has posted several videos and images pleading for reform to the United States’ gun laws. One image shows a rifle used by the Founding Fathers, which fired one or two bullets per minute.

It also showed an AR-15, which authorities said is the model of assault rifle Cruz used in Wednesday’s shooting. It fires 45 rounds per minute, the graphic states. 

“Times have changed. Guns have changed,” the image reads. “Our gun laws should change with them.”

Scott Beigel

Beigel, 35, was killed as he ushered students into the safety of the classroom where he taught, the Palm Beach Post reported. Besides teaching geography, he also served as Stoneman Douglas’ cross-country coach. 

Beigel had locked the door of his classroom when the “Code Red” alert was sounded, but when he realized more students were outside his door, he acted quickly.

“(He) unlocked the door and let us in,” student Kelsey Friend told “Good Morning America.” “I thought he was behind me, but he wasn’t. When he opened the door, he had to relock it so we could stay safe, but he didn’t have a chance to.”

Instead, he blocked the door with his body, another student, Bruna Oliveda, said. 

“I don’t know how we’re alive,” Oliveda said, according to NBC News.

Friend told CNN in an interview that Beigel will forever be her hero. 

“I’ll never forget the actions he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom,” Friend said. “He was an amazing person, and I am alive today because of him.”

Students and members of Beigel’s cross-country team mourned him on social media. 

“I have said RIP (Rest in Peace) too many times in the past 24 hours, but RIP Coach Beagle (sic),” student Chad Williams tweeted. “You are a king and heaven got a good one. Rest easy.”

Beigel, a native of Long Island, was also mourned by fellow counselors and former campers at Camp Starlight, a summer camp for children located in Starlight, Pennsylvania. Beigel served on the staff each year. 

“The Starlight family is wrapping their arms around each other today, singing from our hearts to Starlight’s beloved friend and hero, Scott Beigel,” read a post on the camp’s Facebook page. “May every road rise up to meet your feet, and may the wind be at your back. May good friends supply every lack, until once more as friends we meet. Shalom, shalom.”

Former camper Sydney Reibman described Beigel as one of the most amazing people she’d ever met. 

“He truly did touch the lives of every person who stepped onto camp,” Reibman wrote on Facebook. “From making me laugh just by looking at me, or making a sarcastic comment (which I could never tell if he was actually kidding or not), to giving me tough love when I needed it, he knew how to make every situation fun and turn everything into something positive.

“My summers at camp never would have been the same without him.”

Matthew Perlman, who shared video of Kelsey Friend’s interview about Beigel’s heroism, wrote that Beigel had been his role model since his first summer at camp.

“Thank you for all the laughs and joy you brought into the world,” Perlman wrote. “It’s times like these where we need to love a little more and cherish the time we have together. Through the tears, our memories cling and surround you. Sending love to my entire Starlight family.”

Lindsay Jennings called Beigel’s death a loss for everyone who knew him.

“But I know, like myself, that not one of you is surprised that our Scott stood in harm’s way for his students. Of course he did,” Jennings wrote. “Scott took ownership personally (of) each group of kids I watched him work with. 

“He was one of the funniest and wittiest people I have ever come across, and Starlight wouldn’t have been the same without him for any of us.”

Florida school shooting: Family says missing girl Meadow Pollack has died

Update 1:21 p.m. Feb. 15, 2018: Meadow Pollack, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who went missing after Wednesday’s shooting, has died, her father, Andrew Pollack, said Thursday morning.

Original report: Andrew Pollack stood outside the hospital Wednesday afternoon with a firm grip on his cellphone, anxiously waiting to hear the words “we found her.”

>> Live updates: 17 dead, more than a dozen injured in shooting rampage at Parkland, Florida high school

Pollack and his wife were searching for their daughter Meadow, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They called her phone so many times Wednesday only to hear it ring and ring and ring.

“We can’t locate her. I keep looking at my phone,” Pollack said outside Broward Health North hospital. “I don’t know where to go from here.”

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: Parents, students describe mayhem, aftermath

Pollack rattled off details about his 18-year-old — she plans to go to Lynn University for college. He showed a Palm Beach Post reporter a photo of her wearing a dark, strapless dress and a smile while standing next to her cousin.

As of 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, he still hadn’t heard.

About a couple hundred feet from where Pollack stood, two doctors gave an update to reporters on the nine patients brought to the hospital after a gunman opened fire at the high school. The doctors said Wednesday marked the biggest mass casualty incident the hospital has seen.

>> Florida school shooting: Football coach shot, killed while protecting students hailed as hero

One of the hospitals’ nine patients was suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19. The doctors — Evan Boyar and Igor Nichiporenko — said he was released to police custody and did not detail his injuries. They said authorities took him to Broward North because it was the closest trauma facility.

“Every patient that comes in gets treated as a patient,” said Boyar, director of the emergency medicine department.

Another shooting victim was taken to Broward Health Coral Springs and seven others were taken to Broward Health Medical Center. Doctors at Broward North couldn’t give updates on those patients’ conditions.

>> PHOTOS: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

Of the eight at Broward North, two died, three were in stable condition and three were in critical, the doctors said. At the time of the news conference, three were in operating rooms.

Nichiporenko said none of the six at Broward North were expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday evening, but gave a positive outlook on their conditions: “They’re going to have successful surgeries. They’re going to recover. They’re going to go home.”

The doctors declined to give details about the patients, including their names, ages or exact injuries, but said they all received gunshot wounds.

“I prefer not to comment on specific patients’ demeanor, but you know as a human being you can imagine that they would be in shock or you know be emotional about the whole situation,” Boyar said.

>> Read more trending news 

The doctors said they send their sympathy and condolences to all involved in the shooting. They said the hospital was ready for a day like this and often runs drills to make sure if a day like this does come the patients receive “calm, collected care.”

“We do this every day. So what we saw today, we have penetrating trauma, non-penetrating trauma. We’re a Level 2 trauma center and that’s what we do everyday,” said Nichiporenko, the trauma medical director. “So fortunately for everybody we are located very close to the high school where the shooting happened, so fortunately for everybody they brought these patients to our hospital and we were able to do a great job to do the right thing.”

Florida school shooting: Probe focuses on gunman's motives, victims' lives

Law enforcement officials are scheduled to give an update of their investigation into a deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

The update is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday near the school in Parkland, Florida, an affluent town in northwest Broward County, about 15 miles from Boca Raton.

>> LIVE UPDATES: Florida school shooting suspect charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder

The suspected gunman, Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19, had been a student there recently “but was expelled from the school the previous year,” the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.

Cruz was booked into the Broward County jail and is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

At 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, he was expected to make his first appearance before a judge later Thursday morning in Broward County court.

>> Florida school shooting: Football coach shot, killed while protecting students hailed as hero

Police said Cruz concealed himself in the crowd and was among those running out of the school after the shooting. He was captured about 2 miles away near a swimming pool in the Wyndham Lakes community across the Sawgrass Expressway from the school.

Individuals with information are encouraged to call the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI or visit www.FBI.gov/ParklandShooting.

>> PHOTOS: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

A day after 17 people lost their lives in a storm of bullets at a South Florida high school, police are still trying to piece together what happened. 

The investigation of the high school massacre on Valentine’s Day stretches throughout the state, including one city in Palm Beach County. 

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; the Broward County Sheriff’s Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and FBI are investigating a mobile home south of Lantana Road and off Congress Avenue. 

>> Read more trending news 

Irving Beck, who lives in Lantana Cascade Mobile Home Park, said he got home around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and law enforcement was already at the scene. 

He said authorities told him it was some kind of explosive at one of the residences.

Florida school shooting: Students describe terror, panic during rampage

Flashing lights and police tape still blocked the area surrounding Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, hours after investigators said a gunman opened fire, killing 17 people.

>> LIVE UPDATES: 17 dead, more than a dozen injured in shooting rampage at Parkland, Florida, high school

In a student’s Snapchat video, the sound of gunfire can be heard inside a classroom as students cried and crouched under their desks.

“I was just praying. Praying to God it was not me,” said Trayvon Telfair, a sophomore at the school.

>> Florida school shooting: Football coach shot while protecting students hailed as hero

Telfair said he was in the freshman building and was feet away from the gunfire.

"One of the bullets came through the window and I just looked and everybody was in the room screaming. The teacher was telling them to be quiet," he said.

He was one of the dozens of students led out of the building by armed officers as they walked out with their hands above their heads.

Panic ensued as the school was put on lockdown.

Some students were led to safety, but other students had to remain barricaded in classrooms until police could reach them.

>> PHOTOS: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

One student described waiting near the body of a teacher who had been shot.

“We saw his body for like 30 minutes. We were just praying and crying, and then the police came and we just got out,” said student Bruna Oliveda.

As students ran from the school, they described the chaos inside.

“We heard the pops and we were in the building at the back of the school,” said a student, who was not identified.

As students were led out of the school, some were told to keep their hands on the shoulders of the students in front of them and not to look to the side.

They were told to put their backpacks in a pile and move away.

Student Christina Vega said she never wants to step on campus again.

“I can’t go up the stairs. There were just trails of blood,” she said. “Our teacher, right in the corner, you can just see the bullet and like, blood on the wall. And then this kid on the other side."

The Broward County Sheriff's Office said the 17 victims include students and adults.

Investigators said the suspected gunman is former student 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

He was taken into custody about 2 miles from the school.

>> On WFTV.com: WATCH: Takedown of Stoneman Douglas HS suspect

School officials said Cruz had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons.

Investigators said Cruz had at least one rifle and numerous magazines of ammunition.

There is no known motive for the shooting.

School was canceled for the remainder of the week and multiple grief counselors will be available, officials said.

>> Read more trending news 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott told reporters Wednesday evening he can't imagine what the families of the victims are going through. He also said he would be visiting hospitalized survivors.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County also said at the news conference that families of the dead are being notified. He said 12 of the dead have been identified. He says not all victims were carrying identification and thus couldn't be quickly identified.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says the state will cover funeral expenses for the victims and counseling for survivors.

Florida school shooting: Football coach shot, killed while protecting students hailed as hero

UPDATE, 5:19 a.m. EST Thursday: Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has died after being wounded in a deadly mass shooting Wednesday, the team tweeted early Thursday.

“It is with great sadness that our football family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis,” the team wrote. “He was our assistant football coach and security guard. He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”

>> See the tweet here

ORIGINAL STORY: An assistant football coach reportedly was shot while protecting students during a deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Aaron Feis is being celebrated as a hero, according to the Miami Herald, citing tributes to the coach and reports on social media.

>> MORE: Live updatesPhoto gallery | Who is Nikolas Cruz?

Seventeen were killed and many more were injured in Wednesday's shooting. A gunman, whom police identified as 19-year-old former student Nikolas De Jesus Cruz, opened fire on students in the afternoon.

When the shooting started, Feis – a school security guard, as well – reportedly stepped between the shooter and students, taking bullets in the act. He was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition.

Douglas football player Charlie Rothkopf tweeted that his coach “took [several] bullets covering other students at Douglas.”

The Miami Herald reported that Feis is a 1999 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

>> Read more trending news 

“He is a friend to all students that know him,” wrote Angelica Losada, who identified herself as a former student at the school. “Please, take a moment to send healing prayers for him.”

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said “a football coach” had died in the shooting. It is not clear if Israel was referring to Feis.

School under fire for rule telling students they can't say 'no' when asked to dance

A Utah school is facing backlash after reportedly telling sixth-grade students that they must accept requests to dance at the upcoming Valentine’s Day dance.

>> Watch the news report here

According to KSTU, Natalie Richard was convinced her daughter had misunderstood Kanesville Elementary School’s rule when she came home saying that she could not refuse if a boy asked her to dance. However, after speaking with her daughter’s teacher, Richard realized the sixth-grade girls had in fact been told they couldn’t say “no.”

>> Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

“The teacher said she can’t. She has to say yes. She has to accept, and I said, ‘Excuse me?’” Richard recalled of hearing the news, after which she took the issue up with the principal. “He basically just said they’ve had this dance set up this way for a long time, and they’ve never had any concern before.”

>> On Rare.us: School blocks single mom from attending father-daughter dance

A spokesperson for Weber School District confirmed the rule’s existence but explained that it’s intended to teach the students to be inclusive.

“Please be respectful, be polite. We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance,” Lane Findlay said, adding that the students will fill out cards before the voluntary dance with the names of five people they want to dance with and can speak up if they feel uncomfortable with anyone who has requested to dance with them. “If there is an issue, if there’s students that are uncomfortable or have a problem with another student, I mean, that’s certainly something that can be addressed with that student and parents.”

>> Read more trending news 

Richard, however, believes rejection is a learning experience and a part of life. She said there are other ways to educate the children on being tolerant and accepting that don’t include forcing girls into unwanted dances with boys.

“[The rule] sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say ‘yes’; [it] sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say ‘no,'” she said. “Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying, ‘I can’t say “no” to a boy.’ That’s the message kids are getting.”

Read more here.

Texas teacher dies from flu after spurning medicine that cost $116

A Texas elementary school teacher died on Feb. 4 from flu complications after deciding the $116 price tag for medicine to treat the virus was too steep, The Weatherford Democrat reported.

>> Read more trending news

Heather Holland, 38 and a mother of two, taught at Ikard Elementary School in Weatherford. She became ill the week before she died and planned to buy medication, then changed her mind because she believed the co-payment was too costly, according to her husband, Frank Holland.

“She wouldn't go get medicine because she's a mama. Mamas are tough. She just kept going. She had a job; she had kids," said Heather Holland’s pastor, Clark Bosher. "I think any mom does that. I don't think she is being irresponsible. I don't think she thought she was that sick. It happened so quick."

Frank Holland bought the prescription on Feb. 1 but his wife’s condition worsened.

“Friday night  (Feb. 2), things escalated and she ended up in the ICU,” Holland told the Democrat. "The doctors got the blood cultures back and they had to put her on dialysis early Saturday.” 

Heather Holland had been with Weatherford ISD for four years and had nearly completed her master's degree, the Democrat reported. 

“She was an incredible teacher, an incredible mother, an incredible wife," Bosher told NBC5

Heather Holland is survived by her husband, a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. 

“I have to be strong for the kids but it’s still surreal, it hasn’t all set in,” Frank Holland said. “We’ve been together a long time, over half my life. She’s my best friend, my soulmate, my everything.

“It hasn’t set in with (the children) yet either.”

NY school cancels play after protest over white student cast in lead role

A high school production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in upstate New York was canceled after students complained over the casting of a white student in a lead role, WNYW reported.

>> Read more trending news

Students at Ithaca High School sent a letter of protest to Tomkins Weekly, arguing that the role of Esmerelda was written for a woman of color. 

“We want to stress that the talented young woman who was cast in this role is a stellar actor, singer, and dancer,” the students wrote. “Our concern is not with her, but with the fact that in terms of demographics, she is the wrong choice for this role.”

The students added that the actor playing Esmerelda was blonde with hazel eyes and “is the epitome of whiteness.”

The school district canceled the production, and said a "collaborative project" would replace the show, WNYW reported.

Minnesota school removes ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from curriculum

Students taking English classes in a Minnesota city will no longer have to read two American classics or write reports about them, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

>> Read more trending news

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which contain racial slurs, will no longer be required reading for students in the Duluth Public School district’s English classes next fall. However, the books are not banned: They will be available in the school as optional reading for students, the News Tribune reported.

The decision comes two months after a Virginia school temporarily banned the two novels after a parent complained that her high school-age son was negatively impacted by the books’ racial slurs. In October, the school board in Biloxi, Mississippi, removed “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which won a Pulitzer Prize for author Harper Lee, from the curriculum of an eighth-grade class, the Sun Herald reported. The school, however, reversed is decision in late October, but required students to get a permission slip from their parents in order to participate in the class, the Sun Herald reported.

In Minnesota, school officials said the decision to remove the two novels was in response to concerns from students and parents.

>> Virginia schools ban books for racial slurs

“The feedback that we’ve received is that it makes many students feel uncomfortable,” Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for the Duluth Public School district, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students.”

Cary told the News Tribune that district leaders believed other literary options could impart the same lessons as the two novels.

"We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn't require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs," he said.

Stephan Witherspoon, president of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP, called the move “long overdue, like 20 years overdue,” he told the News Tribune.

The literature has “oppressive language for our kids” Witherspoon told the Star Tribune. “Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school. They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism still exists in a very big way.”

A racial slur appears 219 times in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” published in 1885 by Mark Twain; and 48 times in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published in 1960.

Witherspoon told the News Tribune that it was wrong to include the books in Duluth’s curriculum.

“There are a lot more authors out there with better literature that can do the same thing that does not degrade our people,” Witherspoon said.

Cary said Duluth’s teachers will play a key role in selecting new texts for students to read.

“We’re doing this out of consideration of the impacts on our students and specifically different groups of students in our schools, and especially our communities of color,” Cary told the Star Tribune.

Girl all smiles in viral photo after teacher shows up with identical hairdo

A photo of a Texas teacher and her young student has gone viral after the woman kept her word last week and showed up at school with a hairdo identical to the girl’s.

Leigh Bishop, a pre-K teacher at Lakeview Elementary in Sugar Land, is being called “teacher of the year” across social media platforms after a photo of her with her student, who she identified only by the first name August, went viral. Bishop posted on Facebook Jan. 30 about an exchange she and August had the day before. 

“[Monday] Me: Oh my goodness! I love your hair August! Don’t be mad at me when I come to school with my hair just like that tomorrow …. August: Okay, Ms. Bishop. *Rolls eyes, keeps walking,*” Bishop wrote

Bishop used emojis to show the surprise on August’s face, and her dad’s, the following morning when they arrived at school to find Bishop sporting the same braided hair as the little girl. 

“Me: You thought I was playing? Girl, we are CA-UTE together!” Bishop wrote.

The internet at large agreed, with more than 15,000 people reacting to the post, which included a photo of Bishop crouched down next to August, her hands cradling the little girl’s chin. A beatific smile shines on 4-year-old August’s face as she looks at her teacher. 

>> Read more trending news

As of Wednesday, another 4,000-plus people had shared Bishop’s post on their own Facebook timelines, and hundreds of people had chimed in on the photo on both Facebook and Twitter. 

Commenters praised her for giving August, who, like Bishop, is black, representation in her school. 

“You are why we NEED black women teachers,” one woman, Paola Patrice, wrote. “You are beautiful inside and out! This made me smile at my phone. So grateful for you! You can never be paid enough!”

“Look at that smile!” TE Howell wrote. “It tells a beautiful story. The day my teacher let me know I’m beautiful, my hair is my glory and who I am will impact the world.”

“You are amazing,” another commenter, Toni Hunter, wrote. “You just built a beautiful little girl’s self-esteem.”

“God has placed you in the right place to touch kids’ minds and hearts,” Vickie Platenburg wrote. “You are a teacher that thinks outside of the box. Keep up the good work.”

“Thanks, everyone,” Bishop wrote in response. “Any chance I get to make a student feel whole and important, I take it. (Plus, I REALLY loved her hair.)”

The teacher said that August was thrilled by the gesture.

“She was soooo tickled the whole afternoon!” Bishop wrote. “It was the cutest thing.”

One of Bishop’s friends wrote that the photo belongs in the school yearbook. 

“You know, I took it just to show her what we looked like standing together!” Bishop responded. “Not even thinking it would turn out like this … it seriously speaks volumes. (Definitely) yearbook worthy.”

Bishop’s Facebook page is full of stories and photos from her work. Her teacher biography on the Lakeview Elementary website, where she goes by Leigha Bishop, states that she is certified to teach elementary education, English as a second language and gifted and talented students. She is working toward a master’s degree in school and mental health counseling.

“I am thrilled to be at a school with so much history, and a school that my dad and his siblings attended,” Bishop states on the page. “I am also thrilled to be part of a school district I grew up in.”

She wrote that, outside of her work, she enjoys spending time with her own daughter, hiking, “chasing waterfalls,” and baking. 

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