Life As A Special Education Teacher
“My story dates back to April 24, 2023.
Our Science Special Education teacher, Dylan, coordinated a trip for all of the Special Education teachers and students (who got permission from all of their teachers and their parents or guardians) to go to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri for a tour of the stadium. We had found out the location of our yearly field trip back in February, and we were over the moon excited for it.
All of the Special Education Teachers had made a pact to keep the location a secret. By the time April rolled around, we had decided to only tell the students who didn’t have any failing grades, and they had to promise not to tell anybody else. Even though they were so excited to get to see the place where the great Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce play football, they didn’t tell anyone.
When I heard that we were touring Arrowhead Stadium, I was stoked because I have been a Chiefs Fan for YEARS. My Dad drives past Arrowhead Stadium every single night at work and I am so jealous that he gets to see it in its beauty all the time. Anyway, the students were all very excited, and we were having a phenomenal time.
We got to Arrowhead Stadium the afternoon of April 24th and sat in the lunch area and ate. After that, we split into two groups. Each group had three teachers and 12 students plus a tour guide who works for Arrowhead.
On our first tour stop, we toured the Chiefs Hall of Honor. In it, our group saw Super Bowl Champion Rings, autographed footballs, team uniforms, jerseys from the great Chiefs players in history, cleats, shoulder pads, trophies, and relics from way back when. They even had Travis Kelce’s light pink outfit that he wore on Saturday Night Live on March 4, 2023.
After our time in the Chiefs Hall of Honor, the guide took us to the very top of the stadium and let those who wanted to look out the windows. Keep in mind, a lot of our students have hardly been out of Eldon, Missouri, so the ones who chose to look out the windows were amazed and in awe of how high up we were. I believe Arrowhead Stadium is 18 floors high, and most of the students probably have never been in buildings taller than three stories.
It was so humbling and joyful to see their faces when they looked down at the bus we had all come there on. They were wonderstruck. After that, we all went into a penthouse suite and sat down; we were all looking out at the gorgeous turf that is GEHA Field.
Our tour guide gave us a lot of fun facts and statistics about GEHA Field, Arrowhead Stadium, Chiefs Players, and Artists that had and will play there. As soon as our tour guide asked, ‘Does anybody know who Taylor Swift is?’ every single student looked at me.
I laughed out loud and our guide commented, ‘We have a Taylor Swift fan in the house, huh?’ One of my students let him know, ‘She is OBSESSED with Taylor Swift.’
Our guide asked me if I was going to her concert this summer. ‘Her Eras Tour? I wish! I would love to go, but unfortunately, no.’ Little did I know…
We talked about how much it would cost to rent out an entire penthouse suite, and how sometimes companies rent them out and then randomly give tickets for games or events to their employees for appreciation. It was at that moment that I realized I chose the wrong career. (Just kidding.) But that is an INSANE concept to me!
I dreamt in those moments of being at the Eras Tour, but I knew that my dreams were so far from reality that I needed to snap back in and listen to this man talk about Arrowhead. My Taylor Obsession was getting in the way of my Chiefs need-to-know; I needed to get it together! So I tuned back in just in time to hear him say, ‘In 2014, we hit a record of 142.2 decibels,’ and for some reason, that information decided to stick in my brain.
The Act Of Kindness
Fast forward to July 4th, 2023, and my Facebook Feed is blowing up with Eras Tour news on every single Taylor Swift fan page that I am a member of. I decided to make a little post for all of the Kansas-City-Eras-Tour-going Swifties.
In the post, I had talked about how GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium has the best acoustics and that they had set a record of 142.2 decibels in 2014, which happened to be the loudest any football stadium had ever been.
In the post, I briefly mentioned that I am a Special Education High School Teacher and that I live in Eldon, Missouri. I had talked about the opportunity that I had gotten to take my students on a tour of the Stadium back in April. I thought I would get a few likes from the post and maybe a few comments, but I could have never dreamed what would have happened all from one Facebook post in a group called ‘Broke Swifties.’
A couple of hours later, I had a notification on my Messenger that would not go away, and after some investigating, I realized that it was a message request. I opened it, and tears immediately welled up in my eyes.
‘… I have a ticket for the July seventh show that I can’t use. I was going to try to sell it, but I would love to gift it to you for your work as a special education teacher.’ I immediately ran so many possibilities in my head:
Did my parents put her up to this as a surprise to me? No, they couldn’t have.
She doesn’t even live in Missouri. Is this a scam? What if I fall for this and drive all the way to Kansas City only for it to not be real? I would be devastated.
This can’t possibly be real. Nobody is this kind. How did she choose me?
Of all people, why ME? I don’t deserve this. Holy crap! This is a ticket to see TAYLOR FREAKING SWIFT.
No, this is fake. Am I being punked? Ok, Ashton Kutcher, you can come out now!
My mind was running circles around itself. My response was none other than, ‘Are you serious!?’ She responded immediately, ‘I am, 100%… I’d love to send it to you, zero strings attached.’
Tears immediately filled my eyes. She proceeded to ask for my email so that she could send the ticket, and I received it about two minutes later. I was bawling and shaking because I was so overwhelmed with so many emotions.
I immediately had to FaceTime my best friend: my mother. She was at work but this was important. She answered and immediately went into panic mode because she thought something was seriously wrong.
I couldn’t even make words come out the right way because I was so overwhelmed. By the time I was able to explain it to her, she was crying as well. I think it’s very important to note here; luck does not come my way often, and I have had a really rough year so far.
This act of kindness and generosity from a complete stranger and a fellow Swiftie was so far out of left field for me that I went through every single emotion possible. From doubt, to anxiety, to fear, to excitement, to being overwhelmed, to absolute joy. I was a basket case because these kinds of things never happen to me. At all.
My mom went through all of these emotions as well because she is absolutely my best friend and my biggest supporter. She knows how much I love Taylor Swift. I have never been to a Taylor Swift concert before this one, and I had only dreamed of going to the Eras Tour.
I couldn’t believe it.
The Eras Tour
Fast forward to the next day. I am scrambling trying to get ready for the concert. I need a shirt, shorts, sandals, earrings, a 13 on my hand, cute hair, and OH MY GOSH I need to make at least 20 friendship bracelets! So much to do in so little time.
My mom and I hit Jefferson City, Missouri for a little bit of retail therapy. We found some super cute pink heart earrings that were screaming Taylor Swift and I had a shirt made for the concert since I didn’t have time or money to spend on an elaborate Eras Tour outfit. I stayed up almost all night making friendship bracelets and planning out every detail of my trip.
My mom and I looked for hotels but they were either booked completely with no vacancy or way out of my price range. With reluctance, we decided that I would drive back to my parents house after the concert. It would be difficult but I needed to save money and didn’t really have another option.
Luckily, my dad is a truck driver and he works nights hauling the mail from Columbia, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas. He had to work the night of the concert, so he called and talked to me all the way from Arrowhead’s parking lot to their house for a total of about 4 hours. I was exhausted, but we made it work.
After I had made the bracelets and gathered everything for the concert, I asked my sister-in-law if she could do my hair, because I am not good any of the girly things. She said that she would love to, so I wouldn’t have to show up to the concert with ugly hair. I was a little bit nervous about driving to Kansas City all by myself because of the traffic once I got into the city, but it honestly wasn’t bad at all.
My heart started racing after I paid for my parking ticket because I was thinking, ‘What if I just bought all of this stuff, and prepped for so long, drove all this way, paid for this parking ticket, only for my ticket not to work and for it all to be a scam?’ I was running through all kinds of emotions while trying to find a parking spot. I finally parked and sat there for a few minutes just to calm myself down.
I decided to refresh my mascara and my ‘13,’ then I started walking toward the stadium. A woman on a golf cart came by asking for ‘single people’ because she had 5 seats and 4 were taken. I jumped on and she took me right to my gate.
She was so sweet so I decided to give her a ‘Getaway Car’ bracelet that I had made. I got to my gate and the line went pretty quickly. My hands were starting to sweat and my heart was racing.
It was finally my turn to scan into the kiosk and I scanned in and it turned green, then someone handed me a light-up bracelet and said, ‘Enjoy the show!’
I could not believe it actually worked! I immediately found my suite, but for some reason I was nervous to go in, so I waited in the lounge for about 20 minutes and I traded bracelets with about 6 people.
I finally went into the suite and I was the very first person in there. I was taking it all in. It was an experience like no other.
I walked around and took a few pictures, took a mirror selfie in the bathroom, and I took a video to send to the girl who had given me her ticket, thanking her for this once in a lifetime thing. (She wishes to remain anonymous, so I will not share her name.) People started showing up to the suite and the real excitement started happening when this family of 5 came in and immediately introduced themselves to me.
I told them my story about how my ticket was gifted to me and how I had just found out that I was coming to the concert on July 4th, so I was simply wonderstruck to be there. I never in a million years thought that I would be going to The Eras Tour and seeing Taylor Swift. They absolutely loved my story and my personality and one girl said that I was ‘so deserving of it’ and they invited me to sit by them.
I was so overwhelmed by the time the dancers with the petals came out on the stage that I started crying. As soon as I saw Taylor, I was sobbing and screaming. My heart was racing. That moment will be forever ingrained in my mind.
I had been surprised by most of the concert because I had purposely avoided TikTok videos and Facebook reels of the concert since I knew it would never be a reality for me. I didn’t want to intentionally make myself sad, you know? Every single second of the concert was like a dream: from the countdown to the confetti.
This concert made me feel ways I have never felt before, like when she sang the song ‘Marjorie.’ I was crying like a child because I missed my own Grandma. It was a song I had never truly appreciated before I heard her sing it live, but after that concert, I now cry every time I hear it.
The song ‘tolerate it’ has always meant so much to me, as I heard it at a very sad point in my life and it felt like Taylor had a glimpse into my life and wrote the entire song about me. When I saw that song come to life the way she intended it to at the concert, it made me appreciate the song even more than I had already appreciated it.
I think the concert was honestly the best night of my life, because I never even thought seeing her in concert would ever be a possibility for myself; much less seeing her in concert from a suite with a bunch of amazing people that I got to meet and befriend. It was truly an enchanting night.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caitlin Noel Vandergrift of Eldon, Missouri. You can follow her journey on TikTok. Have a story of love, kindness, healing, or overcoming to share? Visit our submissions portal to submit today.
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