Assistant Principal Gets on the Ground near Special Needs Student to Help with His Emotions

When a third-grade student found out his bus home was running late, he decided to lay down on the ground to process his feelings. Soon afterward, he was joined by a kind and empathetic companion. 

Random acts of kindness can light up people’s lives in the most remarkable ways. Their impact can be so enormous that it can lift people’s low spirits, making them feel not only loved and understood but also a little less alone. 

Something similar happened to an 8-year-old boy, LJ Compton, a Garfield Elementary School student in Marion, Ohio. 

The moment Garfield Elementary’s Assistant Principal, John Smith, came to lie down beside LJ Compton to comfort him. | Photo

LJ was a special needs child with Down Syndrome and also happened to be on the Autism Spectrum. His mother, Steph Compton, described him in these words: 

“He is not shy, not at all. He’s a very happy kid. If he’s not smiling or laughing — which is most of the time— [then] there’s something really wrong (sic).”

One afternoon, LJ learned that his bus home from school was likely to arrive a little late, which meant he would have to wait for some time.

After learning about the delay, the third-grader decided to lay down on the ground and process his feelings. It was then that the school’s assistant principal, John Smith, saw him lying on the pavement and decided to do something surprising. 

Undoubtedly, Mr. Smith went out of his way to be there for LJ, teaching us that it’s never too late to be empathetic and kind.

Instead of asking the boy to get up, Smith laid down next to him, hoping his comforting presence would help the youngster feel better. The heartwarming instant was saved on the camera by Amber McKinniss, an aide at Garfield Elementary at the time. 


McKinniss shared how she was compelled to capture the precious moment as it was the most amazing thing she had ever seen. She then sent the heart-melting picture to LJ’s mother. 

After seeing the adorable photo, Steph said she was glad she had decided to send LJ to Garfield Elementary, even though the school was all the way across town from where they lived. 

Steph was also astonished to see her usually cheerful son in a gloomy mood. Moreover, she expressed sheer gratitude and appreciation for Smith, who had chosen to accompany her son while he laid down on the ground to wait for the bus. 

Netizens leave encouraging comments on the heartwarming photo of LJ and Mr. Smith. | Photo:

The happy mom also added how she was relieved to know that there were people other than her who looked out for her son. She also shared the photo on her Facebook, and netizens were quick to leave encouraging comments. One user wrote: 

“I KNEW THAT WAS HIM love Mr.Smith always will be one of my favorite teachers of all time and football coaches (sic).”

A second one commented: “Wonderful to see that compassion from an educator (sic)!” Undoubtedly, Mr. Smith went out of his way to be there for LJ, teaching us that it’s never too late to be empathetic and kind. We need more people like him. 

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