A math professor doesn’t just allow, but encourages, her student to bring her baby to class
If you’ve grown weary of the toxic shit show that is the current news cycle and want to curl in a ball and weep at the sad state of affairs, this is just the story you need to restore your faith in humanity. In fact, this is the story we all need. Stat. Let me introduce you to Dr. Josie Ryan. Also known as Sarah Thompson’s math professor and the Best Teacher Ever. Because Dr. Ryan doesn’t just allow, but encourages, her student to bring her baby to class, giving us all a lesson in what it means to help each other out and lift each other up.
Dr. Ryan is a professor at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. Her student, Sarah Thompson, is a 26-year-old new mom from South Carolina who’s working toward a career in applied mathematics and computer science. As if adjusting to life as a new parent weren’t enough, both Thompson and her boyfriend are also working and going to school while caring for their 2-month-old son Isaiah.
Knowing that Thompson would have her hands full once the baby came, Dr. Ryan told her while she was pregnant that she was welcome to bring the baby to class with her. “She knew I’d be overwhelmed so [she] literally begged me to bring Isaiah to class,” Thompson wrote in a Facebook post that has gone viral.
Not only has Thompson brought her son to class with her several times, but Dr. Ryan sometimes holds him while teaching complex math concepts. “She taught like this; holding him the whole first class I brought him to…She’s encouraged me constantly & I’ve brought him to our Real Analysis class multiple times now… He’ll cut the cheese and make the class giggle from time to time but we still get down to some serious math in there,” Thompson wrote.
Fortunately, stories about teachers like Dr. Ryan are becoming more common lately. Earlier this year, a video of a Baylor professor cradling a baby for the duration of a 55-minute lecture went viral. Then there was the professor at a DeVry University campus in Tennessee who looked after a student’s toddler during class. And who can forget the professor in Jerusalem who held a student’s baby after he started to cry during class?
“Women are on the rise going to school and working with children,” Thompson wrote. “And my boyfriend Chris is also in school and working as we learn to be parents and our families are beyond supportive of my decision to graduate within the first year of his birth, and I couldn’t do this without them.”
Thompson’s post and Dr. Ryan’s support remind us that we don’t need to choose between motherhood and professional success; this isn’t an either-or proposition. It might not easy to balance the demands of motherhood with those of a career – in fact, it’s hard as hell – but most meaningful things in life aren’t easy. We need help and support, and nobody can do it alone.
“It’s so reassuring to know there are professors out there like this. Not only is she an amazing person, she’s also one of the best math professors I’ve ever had.”
Knowing that there are people like Dr. Ryan – and people like Thompson who recognize and appreciate them – out there is just the medicine we need right now when the world seems to be overflowing with assholery. This story is reassurance that maybe people don’t suck. In fact, most people are good, kind and decent human beings who want to do the right then and help each other out.