High School Students Receive Mixed Responses After Getting Tattoos In Honor Of Their Favorite Teachers

Some say the sweet gesture crosses the student-teacher boundary.

Two students are showing teachers their tattoos @zlyahhhhhrowe, @oliviacarrea / TikTok

There are many great ways to show teachers appreciation. But a couple of students came up with a novel way of doing so that has gone viral.

They have racked up millions of views on the video-sharing app TikTok after revealing the meaningful tattoos they got in honor of their favorite teachers. While most people are praising their kind gesture, many are not, sparking a debate about boundaries in teacher-student relationships.


Two high school students received mixed responses after getting tattoos in honor of their favorite teachers.

Olivia Carrea, a high school student, posted a video with the caption, "The teacher who got me through high school the tattoo I got for him." 

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The video unfolded in a classroom, with Olivia showing her teacher her new tattoo on her forearm. The teacher, noticeably moved by the gesture, clasped his mouth in disbelief before closing his eyes and embracing her in a hug.


In a subsequent video, she revealed more details about her tattoo. It features the number 29 in Roman numerals, a nod to her teacher's classroom number, accompanied by the phrase "your presence matters" inked in the teacher's handwriting. This touching message was taken from a letter her teacher had written for her graduation.

"I love it, it's so meaningful," she said. "He's like family, so it was just a really nice moment."

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students get tattoos to honor their teachersPhoto: TikTok / @oliviacarrea


The response to her video was overwhelmingly positive. People flooded her with supportive messages, praising the profound impact that teachers have on their students

"He looked like he was trying hard to stay 'professional' & not get in her personal space & just broke down at the end," one person wrote. Another commented, "And in this moment he knew all those hard days as a teacher will be forever worth it!!"

However, a small number of users expressed discomfort at the student's gesture, suggesting that it might be crossing an unspoken boundary. 

"If I did this my teachers would think I'm weird," one person wrote.



Despite the few naysayers, Olivia remained unfazed, responding graciously to a supportive commenter who urged her not to care about the negative feedback. 


"Don't let the comments implying anything inappropriate take away from this. Teachers shape minds and change lives," they wrote.

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The trend continued with another TikTok user, Zlyah, who also posted a video revealing a tattoo dedicated to a favorite teacher. 

In her video, Zlyah disclosed how much she had struggled mentally during her senior year, and how her teacher had been a critical pillar of support.



"She always allowed me to come sit in her class if I needed to and would always message me back immediately if I was struggling," she wrote in her caption.


Zlyah revealed her tattoo to the teacher on graduation day, having asked her to write something on a sticky note previously without disclosing what it was for. The tattoo was an inscription of the teacher's message on the note, which read, "You're the best! Love you!" 

The teacher's initial disbelief quickly transformed into emotion, as she hugged Zlyah, declaring, "I'm gonna cry."

The sentiment behind Zlyah's tattoo seemed to resonate deeply with viewers, with many leaving positive comments on her TikTok. 


"I love this. She looked like she needed that as much as you did!" one person wrote. "You made her feel seen as a teacher while she made you feel seen as a person!! You both encouraged each other without knowing!! Beautiful," another added.

These viral videos underscore the often underappreciated influence teachers have on their students. Despite the few objections, the overriding sentiment of these videos is one of admiration for teachers and the crucial role they play in shaping young lives.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.