Teachers Are Sharing the Biggest Secrets They’ve Kept, Proving Yet Again We Don’t Deserve Them

“Stay in your lane” just didn’t sit right with these teachers.

Two photos of teachers' biggest secrets, from helping a coworker escape abuse to a principal who saved a student

We walk a fine line as teachers when it comes to supporting our students and coworkers. On one hand, we have handbooks full of rigid rules and guidelines we have to abide by. On the other hand, we have to protect the people we work with—and sometimes that goes against the rules. And in those cases, teachers have to stay quiet. In this article, we’re going to dive into some teachers’ biggest secrets and why they had to keep them. Get your tissues handy!

A retired Reddit teacher started the conversation with a story of how she and a “protective network” of colleagues helped a student’s mother escape her abusive husband. She shares that now, away from the classroom, it’s time to share the story because:

“I’ve always opted to act, regardless of the rules, keeping it low-key.”

“Anyone else got a secret to share?” —Toanume

Wow. The rest of these stories are just as powerful, and we want to share them with you.

I put my colleague on a plane.

“I did something similar (I wasn’t a teacher yet). A female coworker was married to an absolute monster. She had no money, no car, no nothing. Anyway, she wanted to go home, with her daughter. So after work one night I drove her and her child to the airport (she had her passports). Gave her some money and a diaper bag and put her on a plane to Scotland. That was in 1989.” —CrabbyOlLyberrian

My principal saved me.


“I am a spec ed teacher, but when I was 16 my mom moved the man who physically & sexually assaulted me into our home. She bailed him out when he was arrested. I left & slept in a car I bought for $200. The principal at my school found out and he and his wife rented me a studio apartment. They paid for me to go to counseling & helped me get a job so I could afford food & basic necessities.” —WonderOrca

Even if it cost me my career, I gave her a shot at a successful life.

“I had a student who had run away from her family, who was a known drug dealer with violent tendencies in the area. I received a call from another school employee that said she was on the highway and walking away from her house with her boyfriend. Both she and he were 18 at the time. My wife and I went and picked her and her boyfriend up, and in talking with her prior to this day, we knew that the situation at home was terrible.

“The boyfriend had family in the next state, and the girl was comfortable going there, so we drove them over to his family’s house. Had she not been 18, we would not have done it. Police were called on us, and we discussed it with our administration after we returned home to let them know what we had done. Since they were 18, there was no recourse that could have been taken by the police, so no charges were filed, and we stayed in education and moved out of that community after that year.

“The girl went on to marry her boyfriend and have a couple kids, living a successful life. Family she was with were involved in many drug offenses and leading police on a high-speed chase and are still in prison. I feel that we gave her a shot at a successful life, even if it could have cost us our careers. Worth it!” —Lord-Vader1

I provided a night of rest.

“When my daughter was in 7th grade, I drove a school friend of hers home after an evening chorus concert. The school friend was also my current student. When we pulled in the driveway, her mom and little brother, who was a little younger than 2 years old, were outside on the porch. Mom came to my car and said that stepdad was drunk and angry and had locked them out of the house. Her purse and all her belongings were in the house. I didn’t know what to do so I told them they could all spend the night at my house, got them in the car, and they spent the night in my guest room.

“When we got to my house, mom called her sister from the house phone and the sister picked them all up the next morning. The next day, my student withdrew from school bc she, mom, and brother went to live with auntie in another city. This was in the days before cell phones and social media were so prevalent. I think about my former student and hope they’re all OK.” —we_gon_ride

I gave a foster child a surprise Christmas.

“One year, I won a $100 gift certificate to a local mall right before Christmas. I had the counselor give it to one of my students who was in foster care and had been having a really hard time with her new parents. The counselor told her she had won a contest at school and gave her the certificate. The counselor later told me she was ecstatic because she wasn’t sure she was going to get anything for Christmas. This was in the early 2000s, so it was a good gift. It still makes me smile to this day. I never told anyone!” —Sunnyvail

My coworker gives away shoes he “accidentally” bought.

“One of my coworkers, who is a cool younger male teacher and basketball coach, always ‘accidentally’ buys the wrong-size shoes. It just so happens they fit most of the kids who want to play sports, but maybe don’t have the funds to have the right gear. He thanks them profusely for getting them off his hands. It makes me smile every time.” —InspireLearning

I helped provide a wardrobe to a student who couldn’t afford it.

“We had a very poor and poorly parented student who’d worked and scraped together enough money to go on a high school trip in another state with no help and with her family actively trying to get money from her. I saw a colleague shopping in a nearby town and it turned out she was shopping with the girl, buying wardrobe basics as she’d tried to pull out of the trip on realising she didn’t have any suitable clothes. She wasn’t after fancy, just something acceptable, underwear, a shirt, jumper, pants, a basic wardrobe to be sure. I gave my colleague a sum of cash to help out and asked her not to mention it to anyone.

“This girl is in her late 20s now and has made it out of our town and escaped the fate of her family. I like to think that our combined efforts gave her some hope and helped her on her journey, although surely, most of the credit goes to the girl herself.” —westbridge1157

I fought for the rights of those without a voice.

“Called a parent and told them to threaten to press charges or better yet, actually press charges against the student who sexually assaulted their daughter!! They just wanted to suspend him for three days and keep him in the same PE and lunch period!!! If they had found out I’m the one who pushed mom to demand a harsher consequence, I probably would have been reprimanded. This was upper elementary so they were trying to be more like ‘boys are boys,’ but hell no.” —Neither_Most

My counselor is a housing angel.

“My school (work, not one I was enrolled in) has a counselor that housed four student siblings for the remaining month of the year before CPS moved them into another guardian’s house where they’d have to attend a different school. She housed them so they could finish the year with their friends and everything and I admire her a whole lot.” —Luna6696

My mom helped her students’ mom escape.

“Not me, but my mom is also a teacher. When I was a kid, these two kids, one of whom was in her class, came and spent the night at our house. I just thought awesome sleepover, but when I got older she told me the real reason. They were living with their mom’s abusive boyfriend and the mom was ready to leave. She confided in my mom and so my mom took the kids for the night while their mom got out of there. Both of the kids are grown up now and living really good lives. I have a ton more stories of things like this my mom has done for families throughout her career. She’s an amazing woman.” —VenusPom

I helped her graduate with her friends.

“I let a homeless student live with me for four weeks so she could graduate with her classmates. The mother lost her job; had to move out of state and the girl (18) lived with me in my apartment. Totally unethical at the time I realize now. But it was my second year of teaching and I, a 24M, didn’t think anything of it. This girl was very intelligent and had been in three of my classes.

“She told me her mom lost her job and had to move out of state, and off the cuff I said well you can just stay with me. The student asked if I was serious and I said yeah sure. She went home and talked to mom. Her mom called and we talked it over. Two days later I have a student living with me. She stayed four weeks, graduated on a Friday, moved out and went with her mom right after graduation. Prior to this, I was told I wasn’t going to be rehired so that they could hire the next head football coach. I figured I couldn’t get in trouble; they already told me I wasn’t coming back. Would I do it again? Probably.” —thedukebaseball

My teacher was my guardian angel.

“I had a teacher in high school do something similar for me. It wasn’t as bad as your student’s situation, but for me, the teacher had seen the mounting signs of abuse and neglect and always offered to help if she could—a ride home, a place to study in her classroom after classes, extra lunch she would pack, etc. Finally, about 2 months before I was set to graduate, I was kicked out and planning to leave the state to stay with friends, meaning I would have to drop out. She offered to let me stay with her until the fall when I would go to college so I could graduate on time.

“I ended up working something out with the school that allowed me to finish my year in a kind of independent study and submit some final exams by mail so I could still get my diploma on time. Now, decades later, I still can’t believe how kind and generous she was for me, some kid out of hundreds if not thousands she had over the years. She’s the first person I think about whenever I need to remember to have faith in humanity.” —cocaflo

A cook at my school fed the kids who needed it.

“A wonderful elderly head cook at our elementary school used to carefully pack leftover food for a couple of our needy kids, and each weekend their backpacks fed them and their other siblings for the weekend. She was caught by the head of the food service and received a written reprimand that she would be terminated if she did it again. That very Friday, new, bigger, backpacks were filled and on the backs of those children. (But they had to pick them up in my room.) She and I kept this secret until she retired and I moved schools. Four years she/we did this! Dianne you were an angel then and I am sure you are a real one now. 😇” —United_Show518

I saw myself in her scary situation.

“I’ve been teaching for 17 years. Around year 5-6, teaching AP world history, I met a student much like a younger sister. In her senior year, amidst being NHS president, taking all AP classes, college applications, and Model UN, her perfectionism spiraled into an eating disorder. I recognized the signs, having been there myself. Her mom, initially in denial over the stigma, was finally persuaded to seek help. The student was admitted to an inpatient facility after we intervened with the school nurse, counselor, and principal. I supported her recovery, helped with her school work, and ensured her college applications were in order. Despite challenges and difficult relationships, she excelled in college, pursued grad school in London, and now travels for work. Last summer, we reunited in NYC, reflecting on her journey.

“I don’t regret getting this involved, but it took a lot out of me, like emotional energy bc I constantly worried about her and had to watch her like a hawk to make sure she ate. It was the right thing to do, but I haven’t allowed myself to get that close again.” —GoodEyeSniper83

In reflecting on these stories and what we’ve always known, it’s clear that teaching is much more than imparting knowledge: It’s about making a real, tangible difference in the lives of those we teach. These narratives reveal a shared commitment among educators to do whatever it takes to protect and uplift our students. We indeed walk a fine line—and it’s important for teachers to not go beyond their comfort zones in terms of safety. But it’s on this line where the most profound impacts are made, reminding us why we chose this path in the first place—to make a difference, no matter how great the challenge.

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