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9-year-old Florida boy uses birthday money to give teacher a pay raise

His teacher opened the envelope expecting money for a field trip. What she found instead gave her goosebumps.
Birthday mom pay raise
Gorrie Elementary School teacher Mary Hall Chambers with student Parker Williams.Courtesy \ Mary Hall Chambers
/ Source: TODAY

A Florida 9-year-old boy gave his third grade teacher an unexpected surprise when he offered his own birthday money as a solution to the problem of teachers being underpaid.

Mary Hall Chambers, a teacher at Gorrie Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, got a surprise when she opened up an envelope from Parker Williams, and discovered a note along with $15 in a zip-lock baggie.

"I don't think that teachers get paid enough for what they do so will you except this gift?" he wrote, adding "My own money" paired with an arrow pointing to the clear bag full of cash below.

"I can't accept this, but appreciate the gesture, Parker," Chambers wrote back. "Students like you are the reason I teach."

When Mrs. Chambers opened the envelope expecting field trip money, she "got goosebumps" and "all the good feels" when she realized what the gesture was intended for.Courtesy \ Jennifer Williams

"We were just so surprised and impressed," Jennifer Williams, Parker's mom, told TODAY Parents of how she felt when she found out about her son's attempted good deed. "I actually got tingles in my arms and welled up with tears because you never know as a mom if the things you try and teach your kids are really gelling, and this was such a random act of kindness that he did on his own without consulting anyone else."

"Generally when he gets money, he is focused on saving it for something for himself. We already have a rule in our house that when you get a birthday present, you have to give 10% to charity," said Williams, who is a financial adviser and mother to three boys. "He already had put that amount aside, and out of the money that he could spend on himself is where he found this money to give to his teacher."

Williams describes Parker as a "combination of being extremely smart and very hyper" who "hasn't had everything come so easy to him."

"He had a real tough time in 1st and 2nd grade," she explained. "He had excellent teachers, but Mrs. Chambers has really put in the extra effort this year to help each child in her classroom for where they are. The fact that he has a teacher that understands him so much and really works with him without negative reinforcement, that's why he wanted to do this for her."

Parker WilliamsCourtesy \ Jennifer Williams

When Chambers opened the envelope expecting field trip money, she "got goosebumps" and "all the good feels" when she realized what the gesture was intended for.

"When Parker smiles, it can literally light up the room," Chambers told TODAY Parents. "When he walks in the morning, you can't help but smile back. He is a great student who is obviously very thoughtful. I know that he has started a philanthropic group with his two older brothers. You can tell that all of them are taking the lessons of being kind and being a change in this world into actual gestures like this one."

"Teachers put their all in all the time," said Chambers, who has been teaching for 16 years. "We often take work home, our day doesn't end when the bell rings. It's so great that Parker realized that we do a lot extra. It's not just what they see when they show up."

Brothers Austin and Luke, 14, with Parker, 9. Courtesy \ Jennifer Williams

Chambers hopes others will see that Parker's simple gesture made a difference. "Anybody can do a small act of kindness to make someone else feel good. That's what he did for me."

"So I hope people are inspired to pay it forward, and give back in whatever way they can."Mary Hall Chambers / Mary Hall Chambers