When teacher John Butler learned that one of his students was not allowed to walk at graduation because of his shoes, he took his own shoes off and let his student borrow them.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 25, 2021. It has since been updated.
Students across the country have had a tough time navigating online schools. Many believed they would not even have physical graduation ceremonies after four years of hard work. However, some lucky ones have been allowed to have in-person ceremonies, including teacher John Butler's students. Unfortunately, one of his students was informed that he would not be allowed to walk at graduation owing to an elitist policy about appropriate footwear. He approached Butler who confirmed the policy with one of the organizers. Therefore, he did what was, according to him, a "no brainer." He pulled his shoes off and let his student borrow them.
The incident was appreciated by many when Butler posted about it on Facebook. He shared a photo of himself in socks and beside him, a student in a purple graduation gown and shoes two sizes too big. The teacher wrote, "Last minute before they close the doors to graduation. The young brother comes walking towards me in a panic. He’s like, 'Mr. John, they won’t let me graduate because I don’t have the proper shoes for the dress code.' He says the lady down there said [he couldn't] walk to get [his] diploma because of the shoes [he's] wearing." Butler went downstairs "in total disbelief" to confirm whether his student was in fact told he could not walk. "Sure enough, she tells me the same thing," he continued in his post. "So then it becomes a no-brainer to me, a 'no more questions asked scenario.' I gave him the shoes on my feet." The moment of panic soon became a funny moment to remember: "Here’s the funny part though... My shoes were two sizes bigger than his, so when his name was called, he had to slide his feet like Sleestak across the stage to receive his diploma. We had a good laugh."
Since it was first uploaded on May 20, 2021, the post has been liked by many. It has received over 20,000 reactions and 2,800 comments. It has also been shared over 18,000 times. Facebook users in the comments deeply appreciated Butler's act of kindness. One user wrote, "Thank you for setting a great example and blessing not only this young man but many others who read this post." Another added, "I'm so glad he knew who to go to for help. Thank you, Mr. John, for being there for him. Much respect for you, sir." Many others, still, called him a hero for empathizing with the young student.
Nonetheless, several users recognized that it was unacceptable for students to be restricted from their graduation ceremonies for something as petty as shoes. One person stated, "Amazing that you did that for him. Trash that they wouldn’t let him walk because of his shoes. Shaking my head." Another affirmed, "No student should be denied the opportunity to walk across that stage after all the years of hard work simply because of a pair of shoes." While this is a feel-good story about the impact that teachers can have, the school must reconsider its elitist policy about appropriate footwear.