Kindergarten Boy Bullied For His Sequin Bag, So His Gym Teacher Bought One Too

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 

A phys ed teacher stepped in when his student was being bullied for carrying a sequin pencil case

As we all know, good teachers are basically treasures worth their weight in gold. A good teacher can make a literal world of difference in the lives of their students and often, it’s not even the academics that makes the biggest impression. Teachers are “raising” our kids when we aren’t around, and thankfully, there are many who take that responsibility to heart, making sure to intervene when our little ones need it most. That’s exactly the case with a new teacher who saw a kindergartener struggling and decided to help in the sweetest way possible.

Joe Klonowski teaches physical education at a New York City elementary school. According to Cafe Mom, his motto in education is to “Be the teacher who you needed growing up.” It’s that philosophy that led him to take action when a kindergarten student he taught was being bullied.

“A student had this pencil case that he loved with sequins on it. Another student teased him, saying it was for girls, and he never took it out again. Today I decided to show off my ‘pencil case’ (it’s a bathing suit bag),” he writes.

Our entire hearts. The photo he shared shows his student holding his beloved pencil case — and Klonowski holding a sparkly bag of his own.

“He would sit there and pet it and change the sequins all the time,” Klonowski tells Cafe Mom. “He would walk around and show it to his other classmates, even to me when I would pop into the room.” The teacher explains that a fellow student asked the little boy why he carried a purse. The child explained it was actually a pencil case at which point the other kid told him it was “for girls.”

Oh hell no.

Klonowski explains that the kindergarten teacher intervened but he noticed that after the exchange, the boy stopped taking his pencil case out of his backpack and now my whole heart is shattered.

Luckily, he had a pretty brilliant plan.

“It was at that point that I knew the class very well, and many of the students, including the bully, were very fond of me,” Klonowski says. “So I decided if I was able to get the pencil case, that I would show it off to the class and hopefully make that student feel comfortable enough to take it back out.”

At first, he struggled to find a similar pencil case, but his co-teacher was the hero, locating an extremely sparkly bathing suit bag that he could bring to school. When he first showed it off to the students, the boy’s reaction was pure joy. “His reaction was fantastic,” he shares.

“I told him to take it out of his bag and show it to me,” he says. “He ran over and grabbed the pencil case and brought it back to me. At that point I asked him if we could trade so I could look at his case and he could look at mine.”

OK, I’m gonna need a minute here.

Of course, seeing the cool, young gym teacher sporting his fancy bag made the other kids forget whether it was “girly” or not. “They all began to tell me how they had a pencil case, but they just forgot it at home,” he says.

And Klonowski further used his Cool Teacher clout to make sure the bully knew what he did wasn’t ok. “I spoke to him and told him how I knew how he picked on that other student and how it wasn’t right,” he says. “Hopefully I at least opened his eyes a little bit!”

Klonowski says he’s overwhelmed by all the attention his (now-viral) post has gotten. “It was humbling to have so many people praising this deed when I felt that this was something that anyone could have done.”

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