A teacher has held an empty chair in her classroom for over 50 years as a symbol of acceptance and inclusion

Let me tell you a short story about a very important teacher who basically got me on the path of writing. Every time during the school year, she wrote a short poem to all her students. Something to celebrate the celebration itself, something to honor her theme, something to let us know she cares about us and wishes us the best. I still have everything saved.

It’s the little things that matter to the student. So you can all thank her for being able to read my little writings, as these little words inspired me to write my own. Today we take a look at another incredible teacher who has always had a spare chair in his classroom throughout his 52 years of teaching.

Before we dive in, please don’t forget to leave your memories of your teachers in the comments below, upvote the story if you like stories like this, and of course, follow the author to make their day a little better!

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Daniel Gill has kept an empty chair in the middle of his class throughout his 52-year teaching career, but what’s the story behind it?

Image credits: CBS New York

Teachers are like wizards; with their one set of gimmicks, they somehow manage to get the important points across. If one does not work, then another method must be used. But one has been used by teacher Daniel Gill, 75, throughout his 52-year career.

Since the 1970s, his class in Glenfield High School, Montclair, New Jersey, put an extra chair in the center of the room. This is not a method of punishment and not a reserved seat for an admin or a parent. But it serves as a reminder for both Dan and his students. A reminder to stay kind.

“Every year I give classes about the civil rights movement on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday,” Dan said. TODAY. “I wanted to personally connect students with what it means.”

It ties into a time when he was himself but a 9 year old schoolboy about to celebrate his birthday with his best friend Archie.

Image credits: CBS New York

In the 1950s, when Dan was 9 years old, he and his best friend Archie went to a birthday party in the same apartment building where Dan lived. With gifts in hand, the boys arrived and knocked on the door, waiting for the festivities to begin.

The mother of the child who was celebrating his birthday opened the door and invited Daniel to come in, but looking at Archie told him that there were no more chairs left.

Dan, confused by the situation, offered to sit on the floor, share one chair, or get more from his own apartment. But the woman only repeated that there were no more chairs.

Mom let Dan in, but Archie said there were no more free chairs. Even though Dan tried to find a solution, the woman said no.

Image credits: CBS New York

Then Daniel got it. The only difference between him and Archie was that they had different skin colors: Dan was white and Archie was black. That night they left together in tears, but it was the moment that inspired the teacher and brought him to where he is today.

He moved to Montclair from New York as a new teacher and worked to transform Glenfield High School, where he teaches today, into an arts school with a magnet.

The school became a model for the desegregation of other schools with the help of Daniel, who, at 25, was full of confidence that he could make a difference. He was central to the implementation of the house system, in which students stay with the same primary teachers for their three years of high school.

The only possible reason was the woman’s prejudice against Archie’s skin color. The two boys left in tears, shocked by what had happened.

Image credits: CBS New York

“We have to be the opportunity class,” Daniel said. “Archie was denied the opportunity to go to a birthday party due to a woman’s bias.” This is where the empty chair comes in. “I put up a chair in my classroom so that anyone who comes into my classroom full of anticipation, like a party, will feel welcome,” he said.

The chair and what it symbolizes has been Dan’s guiding principle as a teacher and as a person. “Not all of us can become presidents, not all of us can become senators, but if we all do our due diligence in how we treat other people, then this world will be a better place.”

Is the chair really empty when there is so much injustice, inequality and discrimination on it? However, the simplicity of it can be the power of the symbol. “One of my jobs is to take complex ideas and make them meaningful for kids. Children work well with symbols,” Dan said. Modern Met.

“It’s a reminder that they can do better – academically, socially and emotionally – but also to make people feel welcome and make this a better place to live.” He knows his message resonates when visitors come to class and kids ask newbies, “Do you know why we have this chair?”

This moment has continued to inspire Dan in his teaching career, and with the simple symbol of an empty chair, he aims to teach his students unconditional acceptance.

Image credits: CBS New York

Dan plans to retire from teaching after the 2022-2023 school year, but that won’t be the end as he seeks to spread the word about the empty chair far beyond Montclair. He plans to write a book dedicated to Archie, who passed away last year. The two lost contact decades ago, but Dan found his relatives on social media.

The book will be titled No More Chairs and Dan hopes it will inspire other teachers to leave an empty chair in the classroom. “In my wildest dreams, I hope this teaches kids how they can become better people and how they can relate to people better. I hope they will make decisions in their class,” Dan said.

The 75-year-old teacher will retire after the 2022-2023 school year, but that won’t be the end of the story as he’s about to write a book dedicated to Archie.

Image credits: CBS New York

“I did what I love for 52 years,” Dan admitted. “It has helped me stay young by being surrounded by young people who energize me and constantly teach me how to be a better person. I have never had to work a day in my life.”

His love and dedication to teaching has not gone unnoticed as Daniel has received two Weston Awards for Excellence in Teaching as well as the Montclair NAACP Teaching Award in 2013.

His main goal as a teacher is to help his students be a little more inquisitive. He said Patch: “I’m not good at getting the right answer. […] I ask a lot of questions. I try to create an atmosphere where curiosity is rewarded and no question is stupid. And I’m trying to get them to apply that curiosity to themselves and their world.”

Daniel believes that “if we all do our due diligence in how we treat other people, then this world will be a better place.”

Image credits: Kevin Wong (not real photo)

Curiosity and acceptance are two lessons we can learn from Daniel Gill and we can do more than just hope there will always be enough chairs for everyone.

Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below. Do you have memories of a special teacher? Was there anything they did that taught you valuable lessons? Can’t wait to read your replies and I hope you have a wonderful day or evening!

People liked this idea, they shared their memories of teachers or teaching. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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