One by one, the teachers arrived in front of Bergman Elementary School in cars decked out in paint, posters and other positive messages for their students.
Most of them hadn’t seen each other since the Friday before spring break, and as they gathered with some of their own children and pets in a big circle in the front lawn Wednesday afternoon, they had to keep themselves from hugging each other. “Six feet apart!” shouted the teachers from across the lawn as they clapped, whooped and hollered when good friends and coworkers arrived.
They were going on a parade.
In the third week of this never-ending spring break, the teachers took a cue from other districts across the country that have started doing teacher parades. In the parades, convoys of teachers and other school staff drive down their schools’ neighborhoods, waving hello to their students. The parades allow students and teachers to at least see each other while being able to socially distance themselves in the cars and along the parade routes.
Bergman’s parade was the second of the actually-warm-for-once day, with Amanda Arnold Elementary holding their own Wednesday morning. Other area school have parades planned for the coming days as well.
Amber Scott, a third-grade teacher at Bergman, said she was upset that she likely won’t get to see her students again, as she’s moving to Texas at the end of the school year. But when she saw news reports of other teacher parades across the country, she was inspired to organize one for her school.
Scott said the parade came together as a team effort, with some teachers organizing parade routes and other volunteering to lead the convoy. Dozens of teachers and staff ultimately joined the parade.
As the parade made its way down the first street, David Upchurch and his daughter Ember, a kindergartener at the school, and son Anthony waited by the fire hydrant for the procession to pass by. Ember said she missed school, but she was glad she got to see her teacher Mrs. E (Jensine Ernacio).
On the other corner, Mindy Weixelman parked her car diagonally across her driveway. With her daughter Sutton, the pair turned the car into a makeshift billboard showing the family’s love and support for the teachers, while older brother Peyton, who just wrapped up his senior season on the Manhattan High basketball team, shot hoops in the family’s driveway.
The teachers snaked around various neighborhoods in northwest Manhattan, honking up a storm like they were in downtown Manhattan, New York. At the intersection of Colbert Hills Drive and Grand Mere Parkway, the Lohmeier and Gaskill families heard the teachers before they saw them, even as the teachers climbed into the hills toward them about a mile away.
“It brought us together,” Scott said. “It’s a scary time, and everyone is unsure of the unknown. We were able to lean on each other, support one another, and boost morale. It makes our school and our community feel more protected. It lets our kids know that even though they don’t see us, we still love them and support them.”