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Middle School Teacher Kept an Empty Chair in the Classroom for 53 Years to Teach Kids This One Important Lesson

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When the boys arrived, the mother of the child having the birthday party looked at Archie and told him there were no more chairs. Confused by her message, Gill offered to sit on the floor or get more chairs. The woman reiterated, “You can come in, but Archie can’t because there are no more chairs.”  

“At that moment, I understood what the codewords meant,” Gill told Kelly Clarkson. Archie was not welcome at the party because he was black. Gill said the boys both left the party, crying. 

“We went back to my house, where obviously, we have enough chairs,” Gill recounts.

More than 60 years and an entire teaching career later, Gill is still reminded of that moment today. Archie was not given the opportunity to join the party because of one woman’s racial bias. 

“We need to be a class of opportunity,” Gill told TODAY. “Archie was denied the opportunity to go to the birthday party because of a bias the woman had.”

Gill says the chair has served as a reminder to his students—and himself—of the need for empathy, and to advocate for those who need to be advocated for. 

“I put a chair in my classroom so that anybody who comes to my classroom filled with anticipation, like a party, would feel welcome,” he said.

The Legacy of a Lifetime

At the end of the 2022-2023 school year, Dan Gill retired after teaching 53 years in the Montclair School System. He was crucial in integrating the district at its foundation, and his legacy in the classroom lives on through each of the lives he’s touched along the way. 

And while he may be 77 years old now, Gill has new plans for the future ahead. 

Since his retirement, Gill received an “excellent offer” from a top publisher for his children’s book, “No More Chairs,” dedicated to Archie, who died in 2021. 

Gill says the boys lost touch decades ago, but he’s been able to connect with some of Archie’s family on social media. 

He hopes the book will inspire others to talk about respect and acceptance, by having a tangible way of teaching those things. 

“In my wildest dreams, I hope it imparts to kids how they can be better and how they can treat people better. I hope they will be decision-makers in their own class.”

Bri Lamm
Bri Lamm
Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras.

Candace Cameron Bure Celebrates 28 Years of Marriage With Sweet Instagram Post

Candace Cameron Bure took to Instagram over the weekend with a walk down memory lane as she celebrated 28 years with husband, Valeri Bure.

Who is Dylan Beard? Walmart Employee Shocks the Competition, Sets Sights on Paris 2024

When Dylan Beard showed up at the Millrose Games at The Armory in New York City in February, no one knew who he was. 7.44 seconds later, he became the third fastest hurdler in the world. When it was over, he returned to his day job at the Walmart deli counter in Wake Forest, NC.

WATCH: Mom Catches Adorable Moment Twin Babies “Meet” Each Other for the First Time

A pair of twin babies are making the internet swoon this week after a video captured by their mom shows the heartwarming moment the two brothers “met” each other for the first time.