Compassion in the Classroom

By Kalyn Story | Lariat Staff Writer

When Dr. Darryn Willoughby saw that his student was distracted in class, he did whatever he had to to make sure she could focus on the lecture; in this case, that meant picking up her baby and holding her for the duration of class.

Earlier that morning, Deadwood, S.D., junior Katy Humphrey was driving to Baylor from her home in Salado when her babysitter called and said she was sick and unable to watch Humphrey’s daughter, Millie. Humphrey asked her to stay with Millie for the morning because she had a physics test she needed to go to. The babysitter agreed and Humphrey picked up Millie after her physics test.

Humphrey had Willoughby as a professor during the summer while she was pregnant with Millie, and Willoughby told her to let him know if she needed anything. Humphrey followed up on his offer and emailed him to ask if she could bring Millie to their exercise biochemistry class that afternoon. Willoughby said of course.

“I came into class a little late because I had to drive to and from Salado to get Millie, so Dr. Willoughby had already started teaching when I got there so I grabbed the first open seat,” Humphrey said. “As soon as I sat down Millie got really fussy so I was adjusting her in her seat and when I looked up Dr. Willoughby was standing in front of me with his arms out asking to hold Millie.”

Willoughby proceeded to hold Millie and continue lecturing. But not before he told the class that one of the greatest joys in life is getting to hold a baby. He also shared that he misses holding his two daughters.

After Willoughby picked Millie up he spent a minute adjusting her and when he looked up he saw several students with their phones out taking pictures and videos.

“I was so surprised because I have a very strict phone policy,” Willoughby said. “I had no intentions of this to go viral. I still don’t understand why it blew up, I didn’t do anything special.”

About halfway through class, Willoughby noticed that Humphrey seemed very uncomfortable. He stopped lecturing for a minute to ask what was wrong and she pointed out that Millie was drooling all over him.

“Katy came up and wiped my arm and cleaned up Millie and I kept on lecturing,” Willoughby said. “She kept apologizing, but there was no reason for her to be embarrassed. I just wanted to make sure she got the most out of the lecture. I was so happy to hold Millie and lecture and know I was helping.”

Willoughby didn’t think twice about telling Humphrey to bring Millie to class or about picking her up during class

“I was just trying to show the love of Christ. Life is about loving people and caring for them,” Willoughby said. “I’m sure so many other Baylor professors would have done the same exact thing if they had the chance to show compassion to one of their students in this way.”

Humphrey served in the Marine Corps for 14 years before coming to Baylor. She actually left the Marine Corps specifically to attend Baylor for their Exercise Physiology Pre Physicians Assistant program in hopes to attend the Army Baylor Physical Therapy program at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.

“There is a reason people come to Baylor and it extends far beyond academics,” Humphrey said. “Dr. Willoughby embodies everything that Baylor stands for. He is an amazing man of God and I am eternally grateful to learn from him in and outside of the classroom.”

Since the first time Humphrey brought Millie to class, she  has accompanied Humphrey to several more since her babysitter quit. Another student in Willoughby’s class with Humphrey has been helping out watching Millie after class.

“I want to do everything I can to help Katy and Millie,” Plainfield, Ill., junior Brooke Roemer said. “Dr. Willoughby’s act of kindness reminded me of the love of Christ and encourages me to show compassion to everyone I encounter.”

Roemer was shocked when the story went viral and news sources were contacting her asking permission to publish a video she took on snapchat of Dr. Willoughby holding Millie. But she was not shocked by Willoughby’s actions.

“It wasn’t a random act of kindness. That’s just Dr. Willoughby’s character,” Roemer said. “Baylor has the best professors in the world. Other people were shocked by this story, but I wasn’t. This is Baylor. My professors are wonderful, Christ-centered people and show me God’s love in every aspect of life, in and outside of the classroom.”

Humphrey’s friends and family living around the world have heard about the story, she even did a Skype interview with a news agency in Japan.

“I had no idea this would happen,” Humphrey said. “I sent the pictures and video to some local Waco news agencies suggesting they report on the amazing things people do and not just focus on the bad, but I never thought it would go viral.”

Willoughby does not like all the media attention on him, but he hopes the story will direct glory to God and encourage others to show compassion in their lives.

“After all this happened I told all my students that the most important thing is to show people extra love and support in their time of need. I believe one of the best ways to glorify God is to give ourselves to others,” Willoughby said. “I would do that for each and every one of my students.”