Students team up to gift shoes to departing teacher
A group of Jenks Middle School students came together to surprise their teacher with a special gift the day she left the school.
Tabitha Martin was just two days into the school year when her father was diagnosed with leukemia. A bone marrow match, Martin knew she needed to go back to her family in New Zealand to help her father.
Martin’s last day at Jenks was Friday and her students made sure she wouldn’t forget them.
Many gave her letters and gift cards to send her off with, but four students took it upon themselves to get her a gift that she’ll never forget.
“The day she told us she was going home to be with her dad, my friend and I immediately looked at each other and said, ‘what if we get her a pair of shoes as a going away present?’ We planned it all out with the kids in our class and asked everyone to pitch in money to buy a pair of shoes,” said James Boudiette, who spearheaded the gift decision.
Four students donated $30 each to purchase a pair of $120 Nike shoes that are mostly white with pink and blue in the colorway.
The idea stemmed from a lesson over a month ago. Martin used shoes to explain the curriculum.
“I use a lot of stories and try to make things relatable to them,” Martin said. “About six weeks ago we talked about shoes and relating it to the lesson, so they started asking me about why I’m always wearing different kinds of shoes. They didn’t realize I have a good passion for sneakers.”
Boudiette and his friends appreciated Martin’s innovation in the classroom. The shoes were a way for the four to show how her lessons will stick with them after she’s gone.
“We all just really thought she was a great teacher and we wanted to show our appreciation by doing something really nice,” Boudiette said. “She always comes up with cool assignments that makes class fun and not boring we just wanted to show our appreciation for her.”
Martin has tried to keep her composure in the recent weeks but the act of kindness from Boudiette and his friends made it difficult to keep the emotions bottled up.
“The past couple of weeks I’ve been doing something where I sit in my car before I walk into the building and I pray and I just try to take all of my emotions and put them in a cage in my mind so that I can still be optimistic and joyful and let the students not feel anything from my personal life,” Martin said. “Just because I’m leaving doesn’t mean their learning journey stops. It all came forward at once when I saw them walk in with the shoes, I started crying.”
“It’s nice to know, their teacher is leaving and it effects them negatively but they’re not showing it. Instead they’re showing their appreciation and kindness. It speaks to their character.”