Aqeel Dix, Ph.D., is a professor at Lincoln University who recently went viral for going above and beyond his role as an educator when he held a student's baby during class.
The now-infamous image, which features the health sciences professor cradling the infant in one arm while he speaks to his students with the other, has been shared over 5,000 times and praised by many on social media for highlighting how teachers wear more than one hat—they are also counselors, mentors, and sometimes even caregivers.
The backstory to this inspiring moment begins on a typical day of class at Lincoln University. Dix was in the middle of teaching a complex lesson about public health when two of his female students excused themselves from the room. Moments later, they returned with a newborn baby whose father had just dropped them off from the hospital after delivering their first child.
As a gesture of support and understanding, Dix asked if they needed help holding the baby while they took notes. Surprisingly, he ended up volunteering as a “babysitter” for the remainder of the class.
Professor Dix’s Act Of Kindness
For this act of kindness, Dix has since been celebrated by thousands online due to its underlying message: not only do many teachers put aside their own needs to meet their students' needs, but they can also be caring and loving towards them—which often goes unseen or unrecognized by others outside of the classroom setting.
While this specific gesture may have gone viral because it seems so unexpected (after all, how often does someone see an entire lecture hall dotted with students taking notes while a professor holds a newborn?), it is unfortunately just one example of how teachers go above and beyond every day in order to support their students—especially those from underprivileged backgrounds.
According to recent studies from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, nearly 40 percent of public school teachers donate money out-of-pocket each year in order to purchase additional resources like books or supplies that their students may need but do not have access to. In addition, teachers often take time out of their personal lives (and without pay) to ensure that each child receives individual attention or support outside of regular schooling hours.
According to researchers at Boston College, this includes attending events like art shows or sports matches that involve these kids even though they are not required to do so as part of their job responsibilities.
It is these everyday acts of kindness - like Professor Dix's picture-perfect moment - that deserve recognition and celebration more. We live in such an age where educators are constantly judged based on statistics alone rather than acknowledged for moments like these that extend far beyond what any test could measure. Professor Dix said shortly after his photo went viral: “Teachers wear many hats…sometimes you can’t predict what hat you’ll need".