Brandon Holeman is an 8th grade teacher, which makes him a definite candidate for “hero” in my eyes any darn day of the week (seriously, I do NOT want to teach junior high!), but this week he actually did win the hero teacher award hands down—because of a TikTok, of all things.

Holeman, who teaches in Kentucky, used the wildly popular social media platform known for crazy lip-synching and choreography to get serious and make a point this week, and make a point he did!

What he said on TikTok went crazy viral, to the tune of 4.4 million likes and over 60,000 comments!

Why? Because he advocated the radical concepts of grace and empathy toward his students! And what Holeman said was what we ALL need to hear right now. 

In a TikTok story captioned, “This is for all the teachers and students out there. Life can hit hard, and we all need some grace,” Holeman recounted the story of a student who walked into his classroom obviously upset. He noticed right away that the student was not OK, and the kid’s friend took it upon himself to tell his teacher, “Go easy on this guy today, his grandfather died last night.”

Holeman says, “My first thought was why is he even here today? But my second thought was he’s here, so what can I do about it?‘”

What Holeman decided to do about it is pretty huge—and a great example of how kindness matters in every situation. And I bet you one zillion dollars that it’s something this student will remember long after his school days are over. It may even be the catalyst to cause a beautiful “pay it forward” ripple effect!


@bcholemanThis is for all the teachers and students out there. Life can hit hard, and we all need some grace. ##teacher ##middleschool ##fyp ##foryou ##studyhacks♬ original sound – visionwise

You see, Holeman’s class was taking “a really big test” that day.

Doubtless, this child’s emotions would have gotten in the way of his academics, so Holeman made sure it wouldn’t matter.

The compassionate teacher put the test on his bereaved student’s desk that with a post-it note that read, “I’m sorry for your loss, I’m praying for you. You already have a 100 on this test. Don’t even worry about it, just turn it in.”

See what I’m saying, friends? This is what we ALL need right now! A story where compassion and grace top agenda, and where people matter over protocol. If we all practiced this every day, well—I get goosebumps just thinking about what might happen.

Thanks to Mr. Holeman for the reminder—you’ve made a difference in the lives of SO many more than just the one student with your actions, and I know your act of kindness will continue to impact others long after your Tik Tok fame has passed.

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.