3rd-grade student breaks hearts with 'pay raise' to teacher: 'I cried'

A third-grader in Florida is going viral after his amazing act of kindness left his teacher — and parents — completely stunned.

Parker Williams, a 9-year-old from Tampa, Fla., made the secret gesture after receiving $15 for his birthday, WFLA-TV reported. Instead of keeping the money for himself, he decided to give it to his teacher, Mrs. Chambers.

"I think more people should be nice, it’s a better thing to do than being mean," Parker told WFLA-TV regarding his gift.

The 9-year-old stapled his $15 to a letter, writing a message for Chambers about why he wanted her to have the cash.

"Dear Mrs. Chambers, I don’t think that teachers get paid enough for what they do so will you accept this gift?" the message read.

Chambers, however, said she could not accept the gesture. Despite being touched by the gift, she returned the money to Parker along with her own message.

"I can't accept this, but appreciate the gesture Parker," Chambers wrote at the bottom of the third-grader's letter. "Students like you are the reason I teach."

Shockingly, Parker returned home from school without saying a single thing to anyone. His parents only learned about the "pay raise" after discovering the note inside his backpack.

"The first reaction was my eyes welling up with tears that my son had that reaction all on his own, that he would do that. I cried," Parker's mother, Jennifer Williams, told WFLA-TV.

Parker's father, Darrell Williams, shared the letter on Facebook, and the post quickly went viral. Now his 9-year-old son is being interviewed by local TV stations and having his story featured in news outlets nationwide.

But for Parker, the gift had nothing to do with attention. The third-grader told WLFA-TV that giving the money made him "feel really nice and good," adding that he thought Chambers deserved the "raise."

"Well, I think she’s a really kind teacher, and she has her own way of teaching and she spends time on everybody," Parker told the station.

Parker's gift also drew attention to a long-discussed issue in the U.S. — pay rates among public school teachers. The average elementary school teacher in the U.S. makes less than $60,000 each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But in Florida, those figures are far lower. The state currently ranks 46th nationally in teacher salaries, with average yearly earnings coming in just over $48,000.