“What an amazing neighborhood,” exclaimed Shanna Chenault, a Laureate Park Elementary parent.
While school is out for spring break and the fears and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, one local elementary school found a way to bring some light to the community.
Laureate Park Elementary School hosted the Longhorn Teacher Stampede earlier Tuesday to reunite teachers and their students and to welcome the children into the next phase of learning – distance learning. Distance learning is the next option for students to continue their learning as all OCPS schools are temporarily closed through April 15 as the virus spreads.
“A few teachers had seen the idea posted from a school in another state. We loved the idea so much because a school really is very much like a family. You have your specific family (your class) plus any students you ever had in the past, or even that you see a lot in the school day are also your family. Teachers were missing their family and we were pretty sure that the kids were missing their school family as well,” described Karen Lee, an LPE Kindergarten teacher who helped organize the Teacher Stampede. “Plus, our school has an amazing, active community. We have a lot of parent involvement. The teachers and staff wanted a way to connect with our students that was safe in this time of social distancing.”
The Longhorn Teacher Stampede was created as a way for students, teachers and parents alike to all say hello to each other all while social distancing. The car parade route journeyed through local neighborhoods: Laureate Park, Fells Landing, Watermark, Village Walk, and Landon House.
“We miss our LPE family and are very grateful for all they are doing for our children,” stated Kayla Torres, a parent of an LPE student.
Another Laureate Park Elementary parent, Arcena Thomas, was very happy the school organized this fun parade.
“My daughter, Sophie, is a kindergartner at LP Elementary. The stampede today made her day. She misses her teacher and classmates terribly,” Thomas continued. “She loved seeing her teacher and all staff call out her name. We appreciate the school organizing this.”
“Teachers know that children thrive in a routine. And, now, their routine has been interrupted. All of these rapid changes started happening when we were already on spring break, so the teachers never really were able to say a proper ‘goodbye’ to our students. We said ‘goodbye’ and ‘see you after spring break’ and now that’s not happening. We teach children from ages four (pre-K) all the way through 12,” Ms. Lee explained. “Those are such important growing years. Some of our older students certainly understand what is going on, but our little ones don’t. Doing this stampede through our student’s neighborhoods was a great way to look each other in the eyes and provide that reassurance – while still keeping our social distancing. All of us wanted to give our kids huge hugs, but this was a good runner-up option. I know that the teacher’s hearts were filled today – a much-needed reprieve from the stress of what is happening. We really hope our students and their families are feeling the same way.”
Parents and students stood on their porches as their favorite teachers drove by. The students were proudly displaying signs to show their love.
“We love LPE teachers! Thank you for all that you are doing to keep our children safe. We miss you,” stated LP Elementary parent Dorianne Colon.
The joy on the children’s faces was obvious, waving and jumping up and down when they saw their teachers that they missed so much during this time.
“It was truly a wonderful feeling for our whole family. Kids, parents, and teachers were smiling, waving, and shouting across the social distances to missed friends and teachers. It was an incredible way to bring the community back together while still keeping our distance. Thank you LPE for helping to keep our morale high in such an uncertain time,” detailed Shelby Holman, a mother of two LPE students. “Go, Longhorns!”
“Me personally, plus many other teachers I spoke to afterwards said that tears were flowing throughout the parade. It was so important for us to see our students, and for our students to see us. We worry about them all the time. During a school year, we are so used to seeing them every day, for eight hours a day. You know your kids so well. Now, not being able to see them, we just hoped they are doing okay. Seeing them during the parade reassured us. I equated it to getting a huge, virtual hug from our school family, plus the community overall,” said Ms. Lee.
Stay safe and stay home, Lake Nona!