MUSCATINE, Iowa–Though school buildings will continue closed through the end of the academic year, Mulberry Elementary teachers continue to connect with their students through other means. Along with providing voluntary educational enrichment online and via paper packets, teachers have hosted video calls, posted photos and videos on social media, and reached out to students individually through a variety of means. “As educators, we know it’s not just about the academic learning; it’s also about fulfilling the social-emotional needs that we all have, especially now,” said Laney Berry, a Project Lead the Way teacher and instructional coach at Mulberry. Wanting to bring a new level of connection to students, Mulberry’s teachers drove a car caravan across their attendance area on April 22.
Over the course of 75 minutes, 32 cars driven by Mulberry teachers and staff went through the neighborhoods and passed by the apartment buildings where their students live, including Steamboat Landing, Mulberry Manor, Briman Prairie, Whispering Pines, Canterbury, Champ de Reeves, Stonebrook, Imperial Oaks, and Heritage Heights. School resource officers Whitni Pena and Angela Shoultz lead the parade, followed by the teachers and staff in cars bedecked with signs, banners, and balloons. All along the way, students and their families said hello to their teachers from a distance. By the end of the parade, nearly 100 families had come out to give the regards.
For teachers missing their students, the caravan proved an opportunity to reconnect with students and heal the disappointment of not going back to school again this academic year. “The parade yesterday was such an uplifting, special experience, ” shared guidance counselor Cate Garza. “I think for all of us as educators, it was so comforting to just get to see the students, families, and peers we work with each day.”
“I thought that our parade was much needed for our students and their families, but also for the bystanders that I saw along the way!” added teacher Anna Miller. “I felt a sense of unity that I hadn’t felt in a long while.”
“I honestly had no idea how emotional it would make me to see so many of our kids waving to us with homemade signs and gifts for their teachers,” reflected Berry. “I was elated to see them, but at the same time, I was heartbroken knowing we wont be able to meet again until next fall.”
Families watching the parade shared similar positive experiences. ” I must say, I got a little choked up,” reflected Tasha Wall, a parent of a Mulberry student. “Thanks to all of you for taking the time to do this for our children.”
“It truly meant more than you know,” chimed in Megan Jameson, another Mulberry parent.