When new mum Sarah Thompson submitted her post-baby back-to-college story to the positivity-focused Love What Matters Facebook page, she could not have know the avalanche of positive responses it would bring.
Be the village
Sarah had started class just a week before her (very adorable) baby boy Isaiah was born. Amazingly, she was back in class just a week after giving birth and Sarah credits her teacher’s passion for education and ‘it takes a village’ attitude to raising kids as the impetus behind her speedy return.
Sarah says that her professor, Doctor Josie Ryan, had already flagged the challenge of juggling parenting and study before Isaiah’s birth and had offered to help in any way she could.
“This is my Math professor Dr Josie Ryan with my son; she’s amazing,” Sarah’s post – with accompanying photo of Dr Ryan holding Isaiah – reads.
“She knows I worked and continued school at USC while pregnant this past semester. I started her class the week before I had my son in August and started attending her class again the week after I had him. She knew I’d be overwhelmed so literally begged me to bring Isaiah to class and even showed me where the breastfeeding room in the health center was at Lander University.”
Reassuring and nerdy
Sarah wrote about the huge difference having this kind of support made to her, and how inspired she is by her teacher.
“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. She’s brilliant really, wacky and the best kind of nerdy … the kind I can relate to.”
The new mum hopes that other educators will be inspired by Dr Ryan and make returning to study more accessible for other women.
“Maybe the world needs more of these teachers! Hopefully this post will encourage other educators or moms or pregnant/working women who are students to ask for help. She’s encouraged me constantly and I’ve brought him to our Real Analysis class multiple times now,” Sarah writes.
Sarah also reveals that Isaiah brings a certain something to her study group.
“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.”
The winning combination of maths problems and a supportive professor have made a big impact on Sarah’s life.
“I am in a perfect world when I am learning math in college with my baby right next to me or in my teachers arms. She taught like this; holding him the whole first class I brought him to.”
But there’s more…
If that hasn’t warmed your heart enough, Professor Josie’s best friend, Jamie Hatfield, checked in on the update too.
Jamie let Love What Matters followers know that what they’d seen of her pal on Facebook was just the tip of the iceberg.
“What I know about Josie Ryan:
•She is the most generous friend, sister and daughter.
•Her brilliance in mathematics is only eclipsed by her devotion to teaching others to love it too.
•She cares deeply about the people God puts in her path to care for, and takes that responsibility as a sacred trust.
•She doesn’t realize the expanse of her impact, the depth of gratitude people have for her, nor the fact that this story only shows a glimpse into how valuable she is.
•She loves Legos, Harry Potter, and all things Star Trek.
•She knows girls should have all of the choices to pursue the same interests and be given all of the tools and opportunities as boys and that pink toys and “girl versions” of toys are idiotic.
•She knows what friendship really means, and has been teaching that to me for 24 years.
•She is my best friend and I am so proud of her.”
It’s pretty great when people work together to make good stuff happen, without making a huge big deal out of it.
Here’s hoping that Dr Ryan’s commonsense approach to student mums starts a baby-holding-teacher movement across the globe.