The longtime teacher did not hesitate to get down to the 8-year-old's level to offer him some much-needed companionship and comfort.
Sometimes, even the smallest acts of kindness and empathy can mean the world to someone. For young LJ Compton, that act came from the assistant principal of his school, John Smith, who did not hesitate to get down to the 8-year-old's level to offer him some much-needed companionship and comfort when the youngster was having a moment. LJ, a student of Garfield Elementary School in Marion, Ohio, was unable to process his emotions when his bus home was running late one afternoon and needed to lay down on the pavement to take a moment to himself.
That's when Smith decided to step in and lay down next to the young boy, getting down to his level so as to offer an empathetic presence to help ease LJ's overwhelming emotions. This heartwarming moment was captured on camera by Amber McKinniss — an aide at Garfield Elementary at the time — who sent the picture to LJ's mom Steph Compton. According to NBC affiliate WCMH, explaining why she felt the urge to photograph the interaction between LJ and Smith, McKinniss wrote on Facebook: "I had to take the picture. It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen! Our hearts melted and LJ enjoyed it."
Meanwhile, for Compton, the photograph validated her decision to send her son to Garfield Elementary despite the school being all the way across town from where they live. "He is not shy, not at all. He's a very happy kid. If he's not smiling or laughing — which is most of the time— [then] there's something really wrong," she said of her son, who is on the Autism spectrum and also has Down syndrome. Knowing her son's generally cheery nature, Compton was quite surprised when she received the photograph from McKinniss and saw her child laying down on the concrete floor.
"The bus was running a little late so he just decided to lay down on the ground and wait for the bus to come. Mr. Smith came out and got down on the ground with him and was hanging out with him until the bus came," she explained. "That's really cool," Compton added with a smile. The grateful mother is happy to know that there are people other than her who'll have her son's back when he needs it. "It’s really awesome to know from a parent’s standpoint, that there are people that care that much about your child. To get down on the ground, and lay on the ground with them to make sure that they’re alright," she said.
Sharing the photograph on Facebook, Compton wrote: I absolutely LOVE this... LJ’s school has a new assistant principal this year... Mr. Smith... apparently LJ was having a “moment” and he got down on his level to help him out. This is why even though we live across town... LJ still goes to Garfield!!! The image quickly gained hearts on the internet with a number of Facebook users praising Smith for the compassion he showed the third-grader and some even sharing their own stories about the longtime teacher.
I KNEW THAT WAS HIM love Mr.Smith always will be one of my favorite teachers of all time and football coaches, commented Erick Romero. I used to have him as my freshman and junior English teacher and my football coach, though we [were] close in age, this man taught me so much and not only was he a great coach and teacher but a mentor as well, wrote Facebook user Teddy Witschi. Another user, Vivian Cabrera, commented: The system needs a lot of Mr. Smith who has not only a big heart but passion love and understand with kids who have special needs especially autistic...