As if teachers didn’t already set the bar high, they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty since schools closed in mid-March. Along with trying to continue to teach in a brave new world, via Zoom and Google Classroom, they are also finding new and inventive ways to encourage their students and stay connected in these unprecedented times. Because teachers are unable to interact directly with students, the creation of teacher parades has been the result.

Kimberly Chicca, a second-grade teacher at Standard Elementary School, decided to organize a parade after hearing about a few other schools doing it.

“I knew how much I was missing the students and knew there were other staff feeling the same,” said Chicca. “It seemed like a great way to let students know we care about them and are still here for them despite all the craziness and change we are experiencing.”

About 30 staff members, and many of their family members, participated in the parade, according to Chicca. Everyone from teachers to instructional aides to office staff were excited to be a part of it. They caravanned through the streets of Oildale, past the homes of many of their students.

“Families were gathered in their yards or on the corner together. We were even able to see some previous students who are now in high school or older. There was just as much excitement and support from parents as from students. They expressed how much they appreciated us taking the time to drive by and remind the students how much we care,” said Chicca. “The smiles and excitement from the kids was amazing. Teachers were calling out to students by name and they lit up when they heard that familiar voice.

“We truly are a family at Standard and the reactions we got to the parade showed just how deeply we all care for each other. We are all in this together.”

Jolie Brouttier, who teaches first grade at Downtown School, recently participated in her school’s version of a parade. Because their students come from all over town, they couldn’t just drive through the surrounding neighborhood like other schools have done. Instead they did a reverse parade, inviting parents to drive by with their students for a chance to see teachers, administrators and other staff who are normally a part of their daily routine.

There were about 20 staff members who participated, according to Brouttier, who said she had 17 of her 21 students drive by during the hour-long event.

“All the parents were just overwhelmed with joy,” said Brouttier. “Their kids had a new light in them to get through the day and the rest of the week.”

Both schools hope to do more parades in the future for those who may not have been able to participate the first time. 

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