A mystery couple treated a group of 25 students with autism and their teachers to lunch last week while they were on a school trip to a restaurant in New Jersey, a gesture made even more significant on Teacher Appreciation Day.
The special needs students from Matthew Jago School in Sewaren were dining out at Jose Tejas restaurant in Woodbridge to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and to learn how to behave in a social environment, along with 21 teachers, paraprofessionals and speech therapists.
At the end of their meal, the restaurant manager informed the teachers that the check for the whole group was being taken care of.
"The manager came up to us and said, 'I just want to let you know that a fellow patron wants to pay your bill," said teacher Jeannette Gruskowski. "We were speechless. We were all crying."
The couple wanted to remain anonymous, but the manager told the teachers they were regulars at the restaurant and had a grandchild with special needs.
"They wanted to do something nice for the children, which was so touching," said principal Robert Patten.
The anonymous patrons also knew it was national Teacher Appreciation Day and wanted to give the 21 teachers, paraprofessionals and speech therapists a special gift.
"It was nice to realize that people do such nice things, especially for kids who deserve to have nice things done for them," said Patten.
Though the couple asked to remain anonymous, the students still wanted to show their appreciation.
When they got back to school, the students created a large card for the mystery couple and had it posted in the restaurant, hoping they will see it.
"There are no words to express how touched and grateful we are to you," the card read. "Your act of generosity will be embedded in our hearts."
The school says because the students didn't have to pay for the meal, they now have extra money for another trip or special party at the end of the year.