There is a powerful bond between teachers and students. Students need heroes they can count on, someone they can connect with, someone who can give them the confidence to grow and become a better person – and that someone can be their teacher. There are thousands of stories of students and teachers developing special bonds and connecting with one another. Teachers may become deeply fond of their students so much so that they make them apart of their lives outside of the classroom. This particular Special Ed teacher from Louisville, Kentucky created such a strong bond with her students she invited them to join her bridal party and big day.
Kinsey French has been teaching children with Down syndrome for the past three years at the Christian Academy’s Providence School in Kentucky. She is one teacher who loves her job and takes pride in helping kids who need special attention. Her love for her kids is so strong, her husband, Josh, even proposed to her in front of her entire class because he knew how much they meant to her. When French began planning her wedding, she also knew that she would need flower girls and ring bearers. French invited all of her students to be part of her bridal party, with the consent on the children’s parents, of course. After receiving the okay from both the school and the parents – who were very excited and also tearful, according to French– she handed out invitations to her special ed students, ages 7 to 11.
It was an extraordinary day for both French and her students. “When you’re working with students in that close a level you develop a special relationship, and I wanted them to be part of this special day,” French said. From the photos of her wedding, the girls wore pretty white dresses with flowers in their hair, while the boys wore suspenders and bow ties. The students also had their own responsibilities, which included walking down the aisle as flower girls and ring bearers. French explained “there was never a doubt” the children would be part of her wedding and celebration. The Kentucky teacher wanted to show that these kids are just like any other kid and that there shouldn’t be so many stereotypes that come with having Down syndrome. “There are a lot of stereotypes that come with Down syndrome. Our students are like any other class and deserve a chance to learn alongside their peers like anyone else,” French said.
French celebrated her wedding on June 3, 2016, but her story did not go viral until her photographer Lang Thomas Leichhardt shared the touching photos of French in her wedding dress, surrounded by her students. Leichhardt even mentioned that French’s wedding stood out to him because she was so devoted to her students and really did love having them be part of a very memorable experience. He added that he’s shot more than 300 weddings and said it’s the “tenderhearted” ceremonies that stand out to him. “I was brought to tears many times during the day,” he said, adding, “You can tell how genuine she is to these kids.” Leichhardt also shared that what he remembers most is the dance floor, where the kids spent almost all their time at and had a blast.
French’s decision to include her students is possibly the sweetest thing ever. French loves her job and her students so much; they had to play a very significant part in her wedding. “They were like family to me … I knew I couldn’t have a special day without them,” she said. The photos alone show just how devoted French is to these kids. She has a powerful bond with her students and is definitely someone these students can look up too. French is a hero in the sense that she shares a special connection to her students and encourages them to do their best everyday. We love to read these touching and heartwarming stories about the bonds teachers have with their students.