Professor Holds Student's Baby The Entire Class So She Could Focus On Schoolwork

"There is nothing impossible if you are willing to be flexible and help others out where you can."

Professors are normally the ones asking students to solve problems — and grading them on their answers. But on October 17, when a student at Columbia College of South Carolina couldn't find childcare and needed to be in class for an important presentation, it was her professor, Dr. Amanda Stefanski, that came up with the perfect solution. 

Not only did she encourage the student to bring her 6-month-old baby boy to class, but the assistant professor of Special Education held him the entire 50-minute class so her student could focus on her schoolwork. 

"I told her that I completely understood, and that yes, I had been in classes before that my students had needed to bring their children for one reason or another," Dr. Stefanski told A Plus. "... As soon as she strapped the very complicated baby backpack on me, the students all started taking out their phones to get a picture."

College professor teaches class holding student's baby 
Photo courtesy of Dr. Stefanski
Dr. Amanda Stefanski holding student's baby
Photo courtesy of Dr. Stefanski

After the photos were shared on Columbia College's Facebook and Twitter pages, they've since received nearly 2,000 likes on Facebook and more than 600 likes on Twitter. "I thought it would get noticed in terms of Columbia College, but I definitely didn't anticipate the wider attention ... My email inbox has been flooded with random messages from other young moms in college, professors at other colleges, and random readers, and it's incredibly overwhelming and amazing," she said. "This student is remarkable and doing an incredible job balancing being a student and a wife and a mom, so really I want to give her the applause for doing what she needs to do to be successful and happy." 

Some former students not only related to Dr. Stefanski's student, but were so touched by the professor's actions that they shared their own experiences of juggling parenthood and their education. On Facebook, Brittany Arsonia wrote, "I've been blessed to experience this as well! While an A2B student, I didn't have childcare, so my professor offered for allow me [sic] to bring my daughter. She then FaceTimed me on her Mac so i could still participate, and not have to mess up my daughter's routine! #CCofSC ROCKS." 

Another person named Sarah Cree commented, "Love seeing this! This has been something I took great pride in seeing from Columbia College. It takes a village to help young moms raise their children and when A'Kaila Wilson gave birth to Ayden Dr. Lemmon and Dr. Berry were both more than willing to help watch him ... until Kaila finished school. This is nothing new from Columbia College. Thank you Regina Lemmon."

On Twitter, Nekia Lewis, responded with an anecdote of her own experience as one of those children allowed in class. "My mom attended Columbia College in the early 80's with a 4yo and a 6yo sitting in the back of the class. This school has always been progressive and family friendly. Thank you for being gracious towards families." 

Dr. Stefanski held her student's baby the entire class so she could focus on schoolwork
Photo courtesy of Dr. Stefanski

According to Dr. Stefanski, one of the college's driving forces is being student ready. "And what better way is there than to be ready — and show students how to be ready — when life doles out something unexpected," she noted. 

Dr. Stefanski chose to teach at Columbia College "precisely because of the close knit community on campus and amazing relationships between and among faculty and students," but she believes anyone at any school can do what she did. "There is nothing impossible if you are willing to be flexible and help others out where you can," the professor added. "I preach all the time to my students — future teachers — that knowing your students and building relationships with them is one of, if not the most, important aspects of teaching. So the fact that all of this is highlighting that notion is what matters most to me." 

Cover image courtesy of Dr. Amanda Stefanski

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