Over a span of two days in April 2020, teachers at Positive Tomorrows drove more than 100 miles and six hours around the OKC metro to bring well wishes and familiar faces to their students during the COVID-19 closures.
The idea to coordinate a teacher parade came as parents of the students reported to their family support case managers that their children missed their teachers. The teachers similarly missed their students. Positive Tomorrows staff came together to design a parade route that would allow teachers to visit all students wherever they were staying.
“It was important for us to make sure our kiddos felt connected,” Susan Agel, President/CEO says.
“These are the kids who usually have a much tougher time in typical school because they bounce around so much. They lack transportation and other things that make it difficult to associate in school. They’re all spread out across the metropolitan area and may not have the traditional neighborhood support system of other students in the public school system would have.”
Teachers safely displayed colorful, handmade signs from their car windows as they drove by the apartments, motels and housing where their students and families were staying. One of the local shelters, City Rescue Mission, was a special stop along the route, one where many children may not receive a visit from a teacher.
The parade also brought to our teachers a better understanding of the transportation barriers families of Positive Tomorrows face every day and a newfound sense of respect for the Positive Tomorrows’ transportation staff members who pick up and drop off many of the kiddos to get them to school each day.
Some of our teachers are beginning to do in-person interactions with students (keeping with social distancing measures) to bring a more personal touch to teaching during this time – an approach that benefits so many of our students who are already academically behind their peers.