“Told my professor I missed class yesterday bc I couldn’t find childcare & this was her response. I’m literally crying. So blessed/thankful.”
– @morganking on Twitter
“Childcare falls through sometimes, and it does for me as well, and I bring my kids to work. We all need people around us, people supporting us. Nobody can do this journey by themselves.”
– Dr. Sally Beville Hunter
A single mother’s struggle
This subheading is a bit misleading. Millions of single mothers struggle every day to make a living and care for their children.
Google “affordable/quality childcare” and you’ll get hit with over 1 million results. Yale University has done studies; Washington Post has written extensively on the issue; health care and child care agencies have published studies, and so on.
Morgan King, a 21-year-old single mom, is a perfect example. In addition to working nights at a restaurant and caring for her infant daughter, King is studying recreational therapy at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT). Her career goal: to assist children with disabilities.
Realizing that she’d have to miss class, King emailed her professor, Dr. Sally Hunter.
King emailed her professor and explained her situation. She didn’t have anyone to care for her baby daughter and couldn’t make it to class.
Most professors would do one of two things (from experience): shoot off a quick reply with something like “Ok, just read ‘x’ and study ‘y,'” or not bother to respond at all. In their defense, most ‘profs’ are busy people, and most lectures are not mandatory.
Dr. Sally Hunter is not most professors. Of course, Dr. Hunter outlined the lecture’s topics and what work needed to be done; but it was her second paragraph that really stood out – here it is verbatim and in original format:
“In the future, if you are having trouble finding someone to watch Korbyn, please feel free to just BRING HER with you to class. I would be absolutely delighted to hold her while I teach, so that you can still pay attention to the class and take notes. I work for the Department of CHILD and FAMILY Studies – so how terrible would it be, if I was unwilling to have a child visit our class? I’m very serious with this offer – just bring Korbyn with you!”
Mom and Professor go viral
When the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on King’s story, the Tweet had been shared over 5,000 times. Even the UT Chancellor (head of the school), Beverly Davenport, got in on the action. Davenport re-tweeted and then added: “Morgan, thanks for showing us challenges college students face. Prof Hunter, thanks for being part of the solution.”
Others responded in-kind – students, single moms, and others who are struggling. The underlying premise of most replies: admiring Dr. Hunter, advocating for single mothers, and the essentiality of simple acts of kindness.
Readers: Have you or your child ever been on the receiving end of someone else’s act of kindness? Please share!
Paying it forward
Dr. Hunter is quite a humble individual. (In all the articles read and referenced, she [subtly] redirected the spotlight.) In fact, the professor discussed her need for help at one point:
“I had Issac, my oldest son, 10 years ago. It was March and I didn’t finish the semester until May. It was my last semester of graduate coursework to get the Ph.D. My professor, Dr. Blanton, said ‘Why don’t you just bring him with you to class?'”
Dr. Hunter also points to her duties as a Professor. Working within UT’s Department of Child and Family Studies, she remains sensitive to the personal needs of students outside of the classroom.
A bigger issue
Childcare Aware of America, a non-profit institution that studies the effects of child care cites the following:
Research tells us that quality child care, for the first five years of a child’s development, provides “a (foundation) for future success and has long-term academic and social benefits (for) child and society.”
Affordable child care is not just a single mother issue; it is a problem that affects working families. At the macro level, child care (or lack thereof) has an impact on all of us. Children who are enrolled in quality programs “demonstrate lasting effects on IQ, (academic) and economic achievement, and lower incidences of childhood obesity and chronic illness.”
What do you all think of the story? Do you have any personal or professional insight on child care? Please do share with us!