Kindergarten Teacher Mark Byrd Gives the Gift of Literacy, Companionship to Little Girl With Special Needs

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You would be led to believe that all teachers in public schools are narcissists with Kool Aid colored hair who want to destroy and indoctrinate children if you only saw the horrifying examples of Chaya Raichik’s Libs of TikTok website. It would be great if there was a website where teachers could be recognized for their work in educating children.

Feel-Good Friday this week is a great start. Nate Eaton from East Idaho News recognized Mark Byrd, a kindergarten teacher who has been at Westside Elementary School in Idaho Falls for 16 years. According to a letter from the parents, Byrd had a special affinity with young children and was especially kind to their 5-year-old daughter, who often required hospitalization due to medical issues. Imagine spending long periods of time in a hospital as a young child. Byrd’s willingness to take time out of his busy schedule to meet with a student is impressive, but the story doesn’t end there.

East Idaho News:

Mark Byrd taught my daughter who had special needs. He is not only a great teacher, but he also goes above and beyond. Our daughter, who had two open-heart operations and a tracheostomy has a tendency to fall ill quite often. After getting RSV, she ended up spending a few weeks in the hospital. Mr. Byrd wanted to see her at the hospital. I thought that was very nice. We thought it was incredible that he did that. I expected him to come in and pop his head for a couple of minutes, then go home. What he did was amazing. He brought crayons, scissors, and the favorite book of my daughter. The puppets were made and the story was read. They took turns with the various parts. He spent probably at least one hour there. It was the most happy I’d seen her in a long time.

Eaton was not able to cover this story when it happened. He felt that the story was important and compelling enough to honor Byrd.

Eaton told the story of the student to Byrd, who remembered the title of the book that he had read to the child: Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus, an age-appropriate, funny, and nonsensical book with nothing to do sexuality or gender.

It is as it should be.

I thanked him and was shocked when he asked to come back the next day. The same thing. He read her stories, brought her more coloring pages and made her laugh. He said he may not be able come the following day because it was a parent-teacher meeting. He was there the next day, on his lunch hour, with a book that my daughter could take home. He apologized for not being able to stay any longer.

Byrd is doing a great job encouraging this child’s love of reading and literacy, which are so important for stimulating the brain and building curiosity. You learn faster when you are able to read and understand what you have read. You also build up a large vocabulary and lexicon, and better understand your world. Byrd did this not just for the girl in question, but also for his entire student body. The letter from the dad continued:

He sent a recording of a story he had read each day to his students who were unable to return to school because of the pandemic. He visited each student at the end and gave them all a book. He loves all of his children so much! We will always remember his kindness towards our daughter! All his students are treated the same way!

Byrd did not boast or brag about the impact he had on his students when Eaton asked him why he taught kindergarten for sixteen years. He replied:

When you teach, it is because you care about the kids and want them to succeed, in school or in their lives. “I want to do my best to help them.”

More teachers need to see their role in this light. It is important to remember that the education of a child is not just about the child, but also about creating successful adults in the classroom and out.