There’s no better gift to a teacher than watching a student grow over the years.
Oddly enough, it took a present from a student to really show Coronado High School teacher and coach Thomas Walser just that.
Last week, a boy named Hector walked over to Walser’s desk during his second period class and handed him a black box that held a pair of Air Jordans – a shoe he recalled his teacher once telling him he’s been wanting since he was in sixth grade.
The teacher from Lubbock, Texas was stunned. He didn’t even remember telling Hector about the shoes.
“It’s just one of those things you say in passing that is no big deal at the time,” Walser told CBS News.
But that’s what made the act that much more special.
“The fact that he gave me the shoes is not really what is meaningful about it,” Walser explained. “It’s the fact that this kid cared enough about me that he held on to a story for two years and wanted to show his appreciation of me.”
A few years ago, Hector didn’t have a reputation of being the best student.
“He was running with the wrong crowd and was getting in trouble and not doing his work,” Waler explained.
Walser said it took time to build a relationship with the student – along with all of his other students – but he never stopped trying.
“That’s what I believe is most important about being a teacher,” he said. “I think a lot of teachers get so wrapped up in the curriculum that they forget the students are people and not numbers. So that’s how I treat them.”
The teacher, who is also defensive coordinator for the football team and head powerlifting coach at the school, said he didn’t do anything special to deserve the attention.
But the internet says otherwise.
A video of Hector giving the sneakers to Walser went viral on Twitter with more than 110,000 retweets.
“It’s good to give back to the man who’s always been by my side,” Hector wrote.
Walser couldn’t be more touched. In fact, he says he thinks of his students more like family.
“I didn’t really always want to be a football coach, but I always wanted to be a dad and I treat all of my students like my own children and focus more on teaching them to be adults than whatever the curriculum says,” Walser said.
It’s pretty obvious from the video – whatever Walser is doing, it’s working.