Nebraska teacher Trey Payne was upset to find that his Nike basketball shoes were stolen. What he didn’t expect was how his students would respond.

Students in middle school can be terribly hard to control. It’s an age when students begin striving toward autonomy from authority, and real rebellion begins.

So when Logan Fontenelle Middle School teacher Trey Payne’s basketball shoes were stolen from his classroom, no one expected his students to react in the compassionate way that they did.

How a Nebraska Middle School Class Made Their Teacher Cry


The students wanted to help Payne replace the shoes, so they pitched in money to replace the stolen Nikes.

“We made a whole group chat, invited our friends that we thought would donate,” eighth grader Carlo Kemper told KETV 7. “We put the money together and ordered the shoes to give to him.”

The surprise was caught on video and went viral. One student tells Payne to open the card before opening the gift.

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“You’re all making me nervous,” Payne says in the video.

After reading the card, Payne pulls a shoebox out of the gift bag. He glances across the group of students and asks, “Are you serious?” To which students respond a collective “yes.”

The teacher starts shaking his head in disbelief and removes his glasses, covers his face and begins to cry. Students in the background of the video can be heard getting emotional too.

“You’re going to make me cry,” one student said.

Then they all come in for a group hug.

Taking Care of Each Other in Times of Need

For Payne it was more than the shoes that made him emotional. He said in a statement from the school: “It’s more than a pair of shoes, it’s about doing things to build everyone up around you. I try to show my kids this and I think the lesson has sunk in for many, in turn, reaffirming my purpose and my ideals.”

Payne is clearly doing something right in his classroom. Creating a sense of community is powerful. You never know when the community you’ve helped to foster takes care of you in turn. We all have something to learn from Mr. Payne and his students.


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