TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a phrase we hear often. Pay it forward.

The popular catchphrase also happens to be a powerful mantra for many, including nine-year-old Parker Williams.

“I think more people should be nice, it’s a better thing to do than being mean,” the Tampa third-grader told 8 on your Side.

Parker says he learned this ever-important life advice from his mom and dad, who have instilled in their three boys to always be nice to others, no matter what.

“We’ve said to them, when you plant seeds, you never know what will blossom,” said Parker’s mom, Jennifer Williams.

In fact, that message is a common motto around their busy Tampa household – a simple, succinct strategy for each day. As it turns out, Parker, the youngest of three, has been listening the whole time.

Show kindness to others. Always.

It’s a motto the third-grader has taken to heart – in a big way.

He knew exactly how he wanted to pay it forward, he told us, and he did just that without anyone knowing – until the very end. The Tampa student wanted to “do something nice,” he says, for the one person he told us has “the most important job.’

His teacher.

“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 us.

He admits his decision came easy.

Parker explained how he thought about it every night for a week, and finally decided that his teacher at Gorrie Elementary in Tampa, describing her as “nice and kind,” deserved to make more money.

So, he gave her a raise. With his own money.

Parker decided his good deed, putting the ‘pay it forward’ motto into practice, would involve giving his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Chambers, a “gift” when he walked into class.

The night before, he took $15 of his own money, his birthday money to be exact, and attached it to a note saying, “I don’t think they get paid very much. And, so I think that I wanted to give my teacher a gift and share my ideas.”


He says he felt good when she smiled at him and gave him a hug. “She was really happy,” he recalled, his smile widening. “It felt really good.”

His mother echoes that sentiment. “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. We never knew he did this until we found the note in his backpack.”

Indeed, it was a total surprise, one that his father later shared in a Facebook post that has since gone viral.

As for the raise? It was returned with a polite response saying, “I CAN’T ACCEPT THIS, BUT APPRECIATE THE GESTURE PARKER, STUDENTS LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON I TEACH.”

For Parker, the reward was already received. He was reminded that paying it forward, always pays off. “It made me feel really nice and good.”