A photo went viral after many praised this man’s act of compassion.

Teaching can be a tiring and thankless job, especially when it comes to dealing with students from many walks of life. That’s why when the story of an educator going above and beyond to help one of their students surfaced, it caught so many people’s attention.

Well, that’s exactly what one assistant principal did one day when he chose to help a boy with autism ride out a hard moment: he went above and beyond, and his actions went viral.

A Rough Day at School

man laying on the ground next to a student

Eight-year-old LJ was having a hard time after school one day in Columbus, Ohio. The school bus was late in picking up the kids at Garfield Elementary, and LJ just wanted to go home. The third grader has Down syndrome and autism, so he had a hard time handling his feelings that day. As a result, he laid down on the hot concrete to wait.

Rather than try to convince him to get up or reason with him, assistant principal Jon Smith decided to lie down with LJ and wait for the bus. It was a small action that made a huge impact, and an aide named Amber McKinniss, who worked at the school, decided to snap a photo.

McKinniss shared the photo with LJ’s mom, Steph Compton, and she was completely touched.

“It’s really awesome to know from a parent’s standpoint, that there are people that care that much about your child,” she told an NBC News affiliate. “To get down on the ground and lay on the ground with them to make sure that they’re alright.”

Spreading the Word

After receiving the photo, Compton knew she wanted to share the beautiful moment far and wide. So she posted it on Facebook, where it quickly went viral.

“I absolutely LOVE this… LJ’s school has a new assistant principal this year… Mr. Smith… apparently LJ was having a ‘moment,’ and he got down on his level to help him out,” she captioned the photo. “This is why even though we live across town… LJ still goes to Garfield.”

People in the comments agreed that the educator had gone above and beyond, and it was awesome to see.

“He seems to be a great principal that cares about the kids!!!” wrote one person.

“This made my day so much better. Only hope he’s still there when my boy is old enough,” wrote another.

Embracing Our Differences

One reason this story is so touching is that it shows us how important it can be to embrace our differences, and to allow grace and compassion in our actions when it comes to guiding our youth.

Mr. Smith, who wasn’t available for an interview at the time, knew that this little boy had special needs, so rather than respond to his moment the way he might have another child, he got down on his level. It was a small thing that inspired plenty of parents and fellow educators out there.

It’s a beautiful reminder that we can all make a difference if we stop and think about how to best approach any situation in life, and understand that sometimes the standard response isn’t the best one. However, showing that you care and that you want to understand can go a long way.

Just ask LJ’s parents, who are now comforted knowing that at school, their kid will be surrounded by people who genuinely care as much as they do.