For many teachers at Lincoln Elementary School, the relationship they have with their students is everything. Even during an international crisis, the Lincoln Elementary staff will go out of its way to make that contact with students.
On Tuesday night, Lincoln staff gathered outside the school in preparation for a parade. Instead of floats or performers, the parade consisted of Lincoln students and their families. Lincoln staff waved to their students, who they hadn’t seen in weeks, as the kids drove by with their families.
“This whole experience was amazing for me,” said Lincoln art teacher, Stephanie Teasley. “The cool thing too was that, not only did we as teachers have signs and stuff to celebrate, but families decorated cars and signs for us to read as they went past, which I didn’t expect. It was pretty awesome.”
As an elementary school art teacher, Teasley doesn’t have a home room of students. This means that she will rarely have an online meeting with students. Instead she will write up an online lesson that the students will complete without talking to her. Other than the occasional invite to an online class meeting, Teasley doesn’t get to talk with students. This parade was special to her because it gave her the chance to see all her students one last time before the end of the year.
Gretchen Weller has three of her kids in Lincoln, and she helped organize the parade with Lincoln teachers. For her, the parade was awesome. Her kids had a great time seeing their teachers, and even the school itself.
“It made each one of my kids look like they belong at Lincoln,” Weller said. “Like they were missed. Like they mattered.”
Weller said she and her kids didn’t realize how much they missed seeing the Lincoln staff until they saw them at the parade. They are used to seeing them every day, then they went nearly two months without seeing them. For the Wellers, seeing someone through a computer screen just isn’t the same as seeing someone jump up and down waving at you in person.
“I will remember that a group of people were willing to stand out in the rain just to put some smiles on kids’ faces,” Weller said. “That’s what impresses me about Lincoln. That’s the heart of the teachers and the administration at Lincoln. It’s that kind of willingness to go that extra step to make kids feel like they matter.”
There is still about a month left of school before summer, and distance learning can be tough. Fourth-grade teacher Annie Buchanan said they had the parade in order to raise school spirit.
“A lot of time in the spring time things get hectic, and the moral was starting to drop as kids were in school,” Buchanan said. “We wanted to do something to bring it back up!”
Principal JoAnne Duncan knows the student/teacher relationship is what makes Lincoln the school that it is. She said nearly all the staff came out for the parade, everyone from the custodian to the district superintendent.
“To have everyone there together, was really the encouragement and the energy we needed to get through the rest of this school year,” Duncan said. “As a principal I am just grateful to be able to support and encourage ideas like this.”
Duncan also wants to thank all the families who were able to come out and show their support for the staff. She said they all really appreciated the gesture, and they all loved how some families were so excited they would actually drive around for a second or even third pass.
Kindergarten teacher Jen Holmgren said it was amazing to see all the kids again. It was something that the staff really needed.
“I will can tell you, at the end as we were all putting things away, there were tears,” Holmgren said. “I know from the teacher’s perspective and the staff perspective, we know we needed that, and we just hope it blessed the kids like it did us.”
The Lincoln staff kept six-feet apart from each other to make sure everyone was safe. They even had matching face masks in support of the school. Students and their families would drive down the street, waving at the teachers, but never stopping or getting out of their cars.
The students and teachers really care about each other, and don’t want to risk getting each other sick. Holmgren said the parade waited a while for the approval from the local health department and Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson, and the school really appreciated his help.