Most of us were fortunate enough to have at least one really good teacher while we were growing up.
The common denominator between those great teachers? Passing on a lesson that was memorable.
One teacher who will certainly be memorable for the students of Glenfield Middle School is Dan Gill, and it's all due to an empty chair kept in his classroom, and the message behind it, which is one of unconditional inclusion.
Gills' use of the chair began after being invited to a birthday at the age of nine, alongside his best friend, Archie. It is important to note that Gill is white, while Archie, who passed away last year, was Black.
When they arrived at the birthday party, their classmate's mother answered the door and observed the pair of boys. She allowed Gill to come in but said there were no more empty chairs available for Archie, implying that he could not come into the birthday party.
Despite Gills' insistence, and his offers to share his chair with Archie, or to even sit on the floor, the mother refused to let Archie in, very likely because of his race.
Gill left with Archie without attending the party that day, with both of the boys overwhelmed by what had happened.
You can see more about this story here:
That incident taught Gill an important lesson about unconditional inclusion, and when he became a teacher, he wanted to include an empty chair at the center of his classroom as a symbol. Not only was anyone welcome in his classroom, but there would always be enough chairs for them.
After hearing about this teacher's kindness, Twitter was overwhelmed with feelings.
\u201cWe need more teachers with empty chairs - so many have them in their way of teaching, but I love the symbolism . The reason one teacher has kept an empty chair in his classroom for 50 years - TODAY https://t.co/5ESzmDvoWG\u201d— Stephanie Swor Festian (@Stephanie Swor Festian) 1655167374
\u201cThank you for your service, Mr. Gill. I\u2019d like to encourage all teachers, academic staff & group therapists to keep an empty chair available in their spaces moving forward to ensure that ALL are welcome, regardless of how you look, feel, live, or believe. https://t.co/K5IUSxmOd3\u201d— Avery Jude Holbert, MSW, MS (@Avery Jude Holbert, MSW, MS) 1655194171
\u201cI love this! Connect kids to a symbol of inclusion and watch their compassion soar! https://t.co/VBeNmmSquk\u201d— Stephanie Jones (@Stephanie Jones) 1655168770
\u201cWow! Just a reminder of what an impact as an educator we can have! #teachertwitter https://t.co/5bmfK7zuiC\u201d— Kristi \u2764\ufe0f\ud83c\udfdd\u2600\ufe0f\ud83c\udf4e (@Kristi \u2764\ufe0f\ud83c\udfdd\u2600\ufe0f\ud83c\udf4e) 1655209511
\u201cWe often need reminders that some people have been quietly doing good all along \ud83d\udc47\ud83c\udffb\ud83d\udc47\ud83c\udffb\ud83d\udc47\ud83c\udffb https://t.co/KCv49rwhVd\u201d— NoKoolAid\u262e\ufe0f (@NoKoolAid\u262e\ufe0f) 1655162973
\u201cStory hit me. Symbolizing a powerful message in a way that hopefully stuck with most of his students.\n\nThe reason one teacher has kept an empty chair in his classroom for 50 years https://t.co/lZM1sB4ZJk via @YahooNews\u201d— ddthinks \ud83e\udde2\ud83e\udd14\ud83d\udca1\ud83c\udf0e\u2695\ufe0f\ud83e\udde8\ud83c\udf86\u2b06\ufe0f (@ddthinks \ud83e\udde2\ud83e\udd14\ud83d\udca1\ud83c\udf0e\u2695\ufe0f\ud83e\udde8\ud83c\udf86\u2b06\ufe0f) 1655168100
Mr. Gill is 75 years old and intends to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. After retiring, he plans to write a book called No More Chairs that can be distributed throughout schools and made available as a resource to teachers everywhere.
\u201cDan Gill's book, "No More Chairs," includes a "message of hope and connection [that] everyone wants and needs right now." And that seems to have already appealed to at least one publisher. https://t.co/KUm56zfcAv\u201d— Asbury Park Press (@Asbury Park Press) 1654956015
He would like to see teachers all across the nation include an empty chair in their classrooms, but more importantly, he would like all teachers to adopt this mindset of inclusivity, developing classrooms where everyone is welcome and there is room for all.