Bolingbrook Teacher Spreads Joy by Giving Out Free Hugs

A Bolingbrook teacher has developed a reputation for giving out free hugs to students, and she has embraced that distinction with open arms.

It all started at the beginning of the school year when fourth grade teacher Krisy Hitztaler began wearing a handwritten sign offering hugs to students who were going through a rough time.

“It was kind of like a social experiment,” she said. “A lot of kids are afraid to ask for hugs. They don’t know how to, but everyone could use a feel-good hug.”

Some students were apprehensive at first, but the trend quickly caught on.

“When I first saw that my friends and I were going through a tough time about something, I just needed that,” 4th grader Salma Sepulveda said.

Even some administrators, including Assistant Principal Leanne Lyons, have gotten in on the trend.

“The first time I saw it I was having a rough day myself,” she said. “And I asked her for a hug. I felt kind of embarrassed, but it definitely made me feel good.”

Hitztaler wore the sign every Wednesday at the beginning of the school year until her coworkers gave her a t-shirt for her birthday in October.

Mrs. Hitztaler says it’s all about making the kids feel comfortable in the classroom, and the more comfortable that they are, the better they learn.

“Having the students feel comfortable socially and emotionally makes it better for them to focus on their academics,” Lyons said. 

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