YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Teachers from The Little Red School House set out to cheer up their students with a parade marching past their homes on May 2.
“Seeing my students’ faces when we would drive by was worth all the time and effort we put into this,” said head teacher Samantha Testa. “They bring so much joy to me as a teacher and to see how happy a simple two-minute drive-by made them was so beyond rewarding.”
Assistant director Katie Rubistello organized the parade with fellow teachers Victoria Reinmann, Samantha Testa and two assistants, who drove to the 40 residences in five decorated cars.
The teachers collected the addresses of their students and mapped out their car brigade, along with taking a timed test drive to pinpoint the time they would arrive at each house
“There is no substitute for a personal connection and this parade was intended to keep that connection and satisfy the needs of both sides, teachers and students, in personally connecting again while respecting social distancing guidelines,” director Melanie Sindaco said. “We miss our families.”
Rubistello said it was a family fun event.
“We had made signs, gotten balloons and worked on decorating our cars,” Rubistello said. “We had Silly String and we asked all the families to wear red and we were wearing red. So it was a very school-spirit event.”
She added that the teachers had also created a playlist so kids could sing and dance when the parade arrived at each house.
“Being a teacher in these times is difficult, being anybody in these times is difficult, but to not see kids that are not your own but yours anyway, it’s hard to not see them and interact with them on a face-to-face basis,” Rubistello said. “We’ve been staying connected on Zoom and doing some fun and school stuff on Zoom, but it’s not the same as getting big hugs and hearing long-winded stories and participating in fun activities together. It’s not nearly the same. So just being able to see them and say hi, wave and see them be happy and smile was wonderful.”
Reinmann said the parade was an overall “feel-good experience.” She added that seeing her students again after not seeing them since mid-March was heartwarming.
Testa said she would do it again if given the opportunity.
“The kids had made signs as well for us to see when we drove by, so that was very cute. Some students even drew on their driveways with chalk,” Testa said. “Knowing that something so simple as driving by your student’s house could make them so happy, in such an uncertain time, makes me know that I am doing something right. It was really a lot of fun and I would honestly love to do it again.”
Parents and students, likewise, were overjoyed to see their teachers again.
Melanie Bradish, whose two sons, Aiden and Jacob, both attend Little Red House, said the parade was extra special for Jacob because he was celebrating his birthday, as well.
“It definitely made me cry to see them. It was so, so sweet,” Bradish said. “They’re working so hard, we really appreciate it.”
Mom Laura Reilly said she appreciated the hard work the teachers put into the parade and it was a special experience for her two girls.
“My girls, I mean, I could cry talking about it,” said Reilly. “They were just so excited just to see them and have something so exciting to look forward to. It was really special and they went to 40 houses. It took them the entire day to do it.”
Mom Melissa Leone-Hallock said it was wonderful to see all the teachers get together to show such compassion for their students.
“They are able to lift the spirits of our kids and give them the hope that this will be over soon and that they will all be together again,” Leone-Hallock said. “My son was over the moon when he saw them coming down the street. We made various signs for them and left them lemonade, ice tea, cookies and cupcakes.”
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