LIFE

Fourth Grader Gets Bullied Over DIY College Shirt, But Then University Produces His Design

by Angela Andaloro

An elementary school student who had a creative solution to a problem found himself bullied by his peers.

It all started when Altamonte Elementary School in Florida held a College Colors Day. Students were encouraged to dress in gear representing their favorite college or university. A fourth grader had no college gear of his own, so he got creative. He created a University of Tennessee sign that he pinned to his orange T-shirt for the special day. Sadly, his peers didn’t appreciate his attempt and made fun of him for the sign.

While kids can be cruel, teachers can be lifesavers in moments like these.

Teacher Laura Snyder shared the story with her Facebook friends. She explained that she intended on getting the sweet little boy a University of Tennessee shirt. She then asked if any of her friends had connections to the school so she could find a way to make the gesture extra special. She never imagined the story would go viral and that she would get to give her student something beyond special.

A spirit day activity at a Florida elementary school became an unforgettable experience for one of its students. A fourth grader at Altamonte Elementary School in Florida wanted to participate in his school’s College Colors Day, where students wear the colors of their favorite college or university.

The only problem was that the student didn’t have any college gear. He consulted his teacher, Laura Snyder. “This particular child came to me and told me that he wanted to wear a University of Tennessee shirt, but he didn’t have one,” Laura explained in a Facebook post about the incident.

orange shirt

Laura told her student he could just wear an orange shirt, which he excitedly realized he had. He talked about the event in the days leading up to it. When the day came, the student found himself getting teased by his peers.

fourth grader florida university of tennessee

“I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label. After lunch, he came back to my room, put his head on his desk and was crying,” Laura explained. “Some girls at the lunch table next to his (who didn’t even participate in college colors day) had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt.”

fourth grade teacher laura snyder

Laura explained that the student was upset about the incident despite how she commended his creativity. She intended to get him a University of Tennessee shirt and asked her friends if there was anyone with connections to the school so that she could make the experience really special.

In just 24 hours, Laura’s post reached a large number of University of Tennessee fans. It even got the attention of the school. During a press conference, Jimmy Delaney, who is the associate athletics director for fan experience and sales, spoke of the student’s experience.

“As a marketing and fan experience guy, I love the creativity that he showed there and it got back to us and got back to the football team, to campus here, to the Vol Shop,” he noted. He added that the student would receive a Volunteer Proud Pack with swag from departments across the university.

The university store even shared a picture of the swag pack, which featured items for the student, for Laura, and for the whole class. The package arrived in Florida the next day, and Laura was excited to share it with the student.

university of tennessee swag

Laura updated the original post after surprising her student with the box’s contents. “I’m not even sure I can put into words his reaction. It was so heartwarming. My student was so amazed at all the goodies in the box,” she wrote.

fourth grader university of tennessee swag

“He proudly put on the jersey and one of the many hats in the box. All who saw had either goosebumps or tears while we explained that he had inspired and touched the lives of so many people,” she continued.

Then Laura got to deliver the best part of the surprise. “When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped. He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today! Thank you to the UT Nation for that!! 🧡🧡🧡.”

university of tennessee swag

The other students in the class loved all the swag they got, as well. “This experience is uniting my class even more than I could have imagined, and it was truly amazing to witness!! The Vols spirit was definitely felt In my classroom today!”

The University of Tennessee announced the shirt based on the boy’s design was available for preorder and would be in fans’ hands by late September. A portion of the proceeds will also be donated to STOMP Out Bullying.

The demand for the shirt was so high that it actually crashed the university store’s website. Seeing so many people support the student and putting a stop to bullying is a truly beautiful ending to this student’s story. He’ll never forget how his experience and his teacher’s kindness helped make a difference.