Cortez Simmons had a pretty rough start to the year at Glynn Middle School.
He moved from Jane Macon Middle School to Glynn Middle for his seventh-grade year, and at the start of the school year, he forgot the lock on his bike and came outside after class to find it stolen.
His teachers quickly picked up on Cortez’s distress and they made it their own personal mission to help him.
“We have a really strong team that’s become very close to our students, and we know their needs,” said Beth Knittel, one of Cortez’s teachers. “We’re going to make sure everybody has everything they need to succeed.”
Cortez had previously biked to school daily, and without his bike he’d been forced to walk to and from class every morning and afternoon.
“And you could tell that he was upset about his bicycle being stolen,” said Sheryl Davis, his teacher.
So the seventh-grade team at Glynn Middle pitched in some money, called Chris Beaufait, the owner of Monkeywrench Bicycles, and bought Cortez a new bike. They also bought him a heavy-duty lock.
On Cortez’s final day at Glynn Middle — he’d been zoned to return to Jane Macon Middle — his teachers gave him his new bike.
“We waited until most of the students were gone,” Knittel said. “We held him back … and he was very nervous, because he thought he was in trouble.”
But when they brought out the gift, Cortez’s face absolutely lit up.
Valinda Szychowski, who teaches seventh-grade social studies, said that kind of love for students can be found across Glynn Middle School.
“All the teachers at this school are in tune with their students,” she said. “It’s not just this team.”
When teachers invest in their students' lives this way, it changes students’ attitudes in the classroom, Szychowski said.
“They want to work harder, and they want to try for you,” she said.
Vicki Klahn, the seventh-grade science teacher, said Cortez left Glynn Middle that day knowing his teachers cared about him.
“He’s a great kid, and he came in real unhappy and he didn’t want to be here at a new school,” she said. “That day was his last day here, and when he left he said ‘When I came I didn’t want to be here. And now I don’t want to leave.’”