For the past 13 years, Renee McInarnay has been a phys ed coach at Oak Grove Lower Elementary School in Hattiesburg, Miss. On Friday, during a dismissal in the pouring rain, a student wearing black-and-white shoes needed to change buses, so McInarnay (known as ‘Coach Mac’ to her students) scooped her up.
“Her shoes had white soles and there was six inches of rain on the ground,” McInarnay, 34, tells Yahoo Beauty. “I looked at her and said, ‘Honey, I don’t know if you know me, but I’m Coach Mac, and I’ll help you get to your bus.’”
A parent waiting in the pickup line snapped a photo of the impromptu moment and emailed it to the school with a note that read, “This is why we love Coach Mac.” When fellow teacher Madeline Varnado saw the image, she posted it to Facebook on Sunday, where she wrote the following message.
“This is my friend, Renee, a kind-hearted, humorous, intelligent, loving, dedicated PE coach at our school. This picture was taken the other day when it was raining during dismissal. She, without hesitation, picked up this 2nd grader so that her new shoes wouldn’t get wet. She wasn’t asked to do it. She just did it because she was meeting the need of a child. She directs traffic every morning and every afternoon whether it’s raining, freezing, or blazing hot. She spends hours planning the most fun activities and games for her students. She NEVER complains. She’s gold!”
Varnado added: “This is the type of publicity that teachers deserve. This is our everyday that goes unnoticed. I’m going to strive harder this year to put people in the spotlight when they deserve it. I’m proud to know this sweet friend (that I also call one of my school mamas) because she makes me strive to be a better teacher every day.”
Varnado penned the post to remind parents that teachers are often underpaid and under-appreciated, despite their commitment to education and to unconditional love for kids.
“They feel called to this profession and take it very seriously,” she wrote. “They have hard jobs that often go unnoticed. They are held to high standards and are told to make 20 accommodations for lots of different students in their classroom. They do most of those things without being asked, though, because they know what each child needs. They are underpaid and expected to fund all of the extra supplies they need to decorate a room and to buy manipulatives and supplies for hands-on learning. They buy supplies for students who show up without any. They buy jackets and socks for students so they can be warm on cold days. They act as mom, dad, caregiver, nurse, counselor, teacher, and many more. They spend countless hours working on activities and lesson plans so that their students will want to come to school and learn to the best of their ability. They call their students ‘their kids’ because they truly become your family. They think about them on the weekend and on holidays and during the summer. They feel great pride seeing them years later, growing up and being strong, smart, and independent boys and girls.”
“I was really surprised that someone took a photo because it was secondhand nature to help the little girl,” said McInarnay, who in 2016 was named P.E. Teacher of the Year by the state of Mississippi. “Teachers respond, so that’s what I did.”
Many Facebook commenters were parents and fellow teachers, both of whom echoed their admiration for McInarnay and other exemplary teachers. “I heard from people I hadn’t talked to in years,” McInarnay said. “This moment allowed me to reconnect with them and it was moving.”
McInarnay’s only regret? “Had I known I was having my photo taken,” she joked, “I might not have worn lime-green waders.”