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Teacher Parade

April 7, 2020

I finish taping the sign to my back window.  It’s not nearly as fancy as some of the cars in line in front of me, but it will do.  I look around at the other cars, think about going over to say hi to friends, then decide I don’t want to be the reason the parade doesn’t start on time, so I settle into the driver’s seat instead.

Engines start.  We’re off!  The line moves slowly out of the parking lot, music blares from the sunroof of one of the cars, and I wonder who benefits more from this parade: students or teachers?

It’s the perfect day.  Sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and it’s warm enough to keep the windows rolled down.  We roll past families sitting on their front lawns holding signs of love.  I’m excited to see families, having fun driving down streets I’ve never been down before, happy to be outside.

I reach over to the passenger seat and feel around for the sandwich I packed for myself, but then we drive past another stretch of houses with families in front and I quickly pull my hand back to wave.  Anyway, I wouldn’t be able to call “Hi!” with my mouth full, so I grab bites intermittently when waiting at stop signs.

I watch my friend’s car peel away from the caravan and head in the opposite direction.  I had books for her in my car, but I’d thought I’d see her after the parade.  I’m wistful now about not saying hi before the parade started.

I have no idea what road I’m on, no idea where we are on the parade route.  I’m hoping we’re close to the end, but every road looks the same.  I keep smiling and waving to everyone I see, but my energy is waning.  Peeling off is starting to sound like a better idea.

We turn back into the school parking lot and I’m hoping that we’re done, but an email had said something about two different routes.  We must have done both by now, I think to myself, but all the other cars are staying in the line and turning in the same direction.  I consider going home anyway, but I think of the students who might be on this second route, and stay in line.

I’ve tried to resist turning on my audiobook–I wanted to give all my attention to waving at families, but I just can’t do it any longer.  The gristly details of a murder mystery float out of my speakers, and I roll up my windows, but then I can’t wave out of them, so I roll them back down and turn the volume down as low as I can, hoping no families will notice the lurid words coming out of my car.

We pass the student whose mother had emailed me to make sure their house was on the parade route.  I shout a hello and wave my hand vigorously out the window.  I decide I definitely deserve a treat when I’m done, and debate whether I’ll go out of my way to get a drive-through milkshake or go home and make myself a cup of highly caffeinated tea.

The line of cars seems to be shorter, and then the head car pulls off to the side at a stop sign.  As I drive up to the intersection, the driver calls to me, “That’s it!  You can go home!”  I’m ready, though I’m not sure which way to turn to go home.  I pick the direction that seems to lead to a larger road, hoping that it will lead me somewhere familiar.  It feels slightly anti-climactic to leave like this–no chatting about how fun it was with colleagues, no exchanging stories about what we’ve been up to.

I’m happy to have made it to the end, happy to have seen the students who waited outside for our parade to reach them.  Was it more for the teachers or the students? I don’t know.  What I do know is I’m ready for a large mug of tea and ready to be out of my car.


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  1. Thank you for parading! My niece posted pictures of the parade her son’s teachers did on his birthday and she was so thankful. Listen to your audio book! It’s all good!

  2. mrssurridge permalink

    This was an amazing gift to your students. I’m sure you were weary by the end of the day. I think my school is going to have teachers stand on the sidewalk outside our school, six feet apart (of course), and invite the students to drive by. Although, with the price of gas now, it might be worth it to drive around. Get us out of the house…

  3. I hope your students and their parents can read this. Your perspective would mean a lot to them. I had supported an idea to do something like this in my own district, but as an administrative team we decided against it, under advisement from some township departments. At any rate, I hope you all benefited from this. It was pleasant to read, and the timeline is an apt format for this piece.

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