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Teacher Refuses to Give Students Desks Until They Answer Her Question—8 Hours Later, They Get a Lesson They’ll Never Forget

First period came and went…

But that was certainly not the end of Mrs. Cothren’s Day 1 lesson that would go down in school history.


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The same cycle repeated itself through second and third period as well—and by this point, her bold move had garnered the attention of local TV crews who hovered around the classroom to see if they could get any insight on the “crazy teacher” who left her kids desk-less.

Finally, in the last period, Mrs. Cothren gathered the students together to deliver the message she’d been building up to all day long. At this point, they were all lining the perimeter of the room, sitting up against the walls surrounding the barren space where their desks once sat.

“Throughout the day, no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily,” she said. “Now I’m going to tell you.”

As the children listened intently, Mrs. Cothren fell silent. It was time for her to show, instead of tell.

Before saying another word, she got up to open the door of the classroom, and 27 uniformed U.S. veterans filed in, each carrying a school desk in their hands. One by one, they set the desks perfectly in their rows and stood up against the walls next to the students.

It was in that moment that the lightbulbs started to turn on in each of their heads. The class finally realized just HOW those desks were “earned.”

“You don’t have to earn those desks,” said Mrs. Cothren. “These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don’t ever forget it.”

While many feel-good “life lesson” stories of this type are embellished anecdotes, Martha’s story has been verified as 100% true.

She was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year for the State of Arkansas in 2006, and her powerful lesson has since circulated in email after being famously recited in Governor Mike Huckabee’s March 2007 address.


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Even over a decade later, her first-day lesson has left a lasting impression nationwide…reminding students everywhere that they live in a land that is free because of the brave.

Kelsey Straeter
Kelsey Straeter
Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.

Toddler is Sick With Mystery Illness for 3 Months When Doctors Finally Discover What’s Lodged in Her Nose

A mom from the UK is sharing her story after her toddler suffered for three months with a mystery illness caused by an object unknowingly lodged in her nose.

Candace Cameron Bure’s Dreamy Family Vacation in Italy: ‘Take Me Back’

Candace Cameron Bure, loved for her roles on "Full House" and "Fuller House," recently took to Instagram to reminisce about her family's dream summer vacation in Italy.

Chip and Joanna Gaines: 11 Godly Secrets to an Epic Marriage and Family

Chip and Joanna Gaines are teaching us important lessons about marriage and family as they walk away from their HGTV show for the sake of their family.