One teacher can make all the difference.

Chris Ulmer, a special education teacher at Mainspring Academy in Jacksonville, begins each day by complimenting his students, one by one.

Ulmer has been working as a special education teacher for the same group of students for the past three years, ABC News reported. Because many of the kids in his classroom previously experienced difficulties in school, Ulmer wanted to do something to make them feel self-assured, so he decided to start each day with one-on-one compliments. With the permission of his students’ families, Ulmer put together a video of one of the compliment sessions and posted it to the Facebook page for “Special Books by Special Kids” — a project he is developing with his students.

Ulmer said the change has been remarkable in his students, whose diagnoses range from autism to traumatic brain injury to speech apraxia to agenesis of corpus callosum.

“They all came from a segregated environment [from general education students]. Now they’re participating in school activities, dancing in front of hundreds of other kids and in the debate club.”

And while Ulmer agrees academics are important, he believes it’s even more important to reverse the psychological damage that came from being made to feel like an outcast.

“Everyone has their quirks, and that’s a good thing,” he told the news outlet. “We give ignorance a free pass. There is no excuse for a lack of empathy.”

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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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