The teacher revealed that this was the first time in his 12 years of teaching he had ever received a request of this kind from a pupil.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 26, 2020. It has since been updated.
Most of us have been instilled with a competitive nature from a very young age. Be it at the playground during games, in the classroom with our peers at school, or professional rivalry at the office, we're thrown into races in pretty much every aspect of life. Although a bit of healthy competition can motivate us to perform better, it also often stops us from helping those around us for fear of them getting ahead of us. And so when someone goes out of their way to support someone they know could use the help, it's both heartwarming and inspiring.
Winston Lee, a history teacher at Letcher County Central High School in Whitesburg, Kentucky, recently witnessed one such act in the unlikeliest of places. Lee was pleasantly surprised when he noticed a handwritten note one of his 11th graders had written at the bottom of his WWII test sheet. It read: "If you could, can you give my bonus points to whoever scores the lowest?" Overwhelmed by his student's gesture, the teacher shared the positive incident with others. "One of my guys, a straight A+ guy, offers up his 5 bonus points to someone in need. Anyone. Totally offering up what is rightfully his, his earning, to any peer that may have been struggling especially hard the day of the test," Lee wrote.
"He didn’t care if he considered them a friend, didn’t care if they were cool, didn’t matter to him what situation had caused them to score lower, he just wanted to help, be kind, commit a loving act. This note gave me so much hope. Let us all be a little more like this young man," he added. Speaking to Good Morning America, Lee revealed that this was the first time in his 12 years of teaching he had ever received a request of this sort from a pupil.
"I was pleasantly surprised. He is the type of kid that would often show compassion in the classroom," the teacher revealed. The unnamed student who offered to give up his bonus points could've increased his score to 99 if he'd kept the points. "The guy is awesome. We’ve had huge political debates in class this year (we keep it friendly), and my man always has some awesome, intelligent input," Lee told Bored Panda. He'd offered to give five points to students who participated in an exam review game the day before the test, he explained.
"Students had played an interactive review game the day before, playing along on an app in an attempt to score points by answering questions concerning the exam content. Of course, he killed it, earning him 5 bonus points for the WWII exam," he revealed. The teacher was left in awe by the boy’s selflessness, pointing out that "most honor students cling to every point possible!" Lee decided to honor his student's wishes and gave the 5 points to another student, lifting her to a passing grade. "She was really thankful so it turned out great. She does not know who gave her the points," he said.
"No doubt a peculiar situation, but the points are his and he wishes to kindly gift them to someone else. Honored and granted! Another student scores a 58% (needs a 60% to pass). Boom, now a 63%. She was grateful for the mystery points and I pray she pays it forward. As is the ultimate lesson on the day. Ah, other questions to mind, 'correct classroom procedure?' I'm not sure. 'Is being led by compassion, kindness, and love, ever considered a wrong answer?' Oddly enough, the student has taught the lesson," he said.
Since posting about the incident on Facebook, Lee has seen many applaud the student for his kind act while others disapproved of the points going to a student who would've otherwise had a failing grade. "Not all are great test-takers or in a comfortable situation at home that allows them to focus on studying," Lee explained, adding that Letcher County is a Title 1 school and that some of the kids live in low-income households. "I feel really great that it helped this student from 58 points to passing. We don't know what her situation may have been."