As students and teachers have transitioned to online or packet learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hopkins County Schools are finding ways to reconnect.

This week, several local schools have participated in teacher-led parades, where teachers drive around the communities where their students live. Yesterday, Browning Springs Middle School and Hanson Elementary School traveled their parade routes.

Teachers were in cars, and students were asked to stay in their doorway, driveway, window or front porch area.

“Our students are used to being in a welcoming, loving environment every day,” said Hanson Principal Cristy Tomes. “Even though our teachers are contacting them through dojo or other methods of technology, we thought this would be a good idea for students to be able to step out on their front porch or stand beside their car somewhere along the route and see their teachers. It’s for encouragement to lift them up.”

At Browning Springs, sixth-grade teacher Misty Weldon saw other schools in the state had teacher parades, and she wanted to bring that here. For Weldon, it was about seeing the students and looking for the smiles on their faces.

“We worry about our kids,” said Weldon. “It’s important for us to be present during this pivotal point in their lives.”

Weldon said parent support for the parade was fantastic. Parents reached out and asked to be included on the teachers’ route. Browning Springs added 12 streets to their route moments before they left the school.

“I think it’s awesome that the teachers are showing their support,” said Browning Springs parent Beth Trumero. “They’re there for us still, even though school is out.”

One seventh-grade student, Karlee Kimbel, said she was excited while waiting for the cars to come by her house.

“I’m really excited because I care a lot about my teachers, and it’s sad not being in school,” she said. “So, it makes me happy to get to see them.”

After Hanson’s teacher parade, parent Rhea Ashby said the experience was emotional.

“It was really touching,” she said. “My kids have been really excited, saying, ‘When are they coming, when are they coming.’ Teachers blew their horns as they pulled into the neighborhood and hung out their windows and hung out their signs.”

Ashby said during this time of transitioning traditional classroom teaching to the non-traditional online learning that teachers have gone the extra mile for her students.

“They’re already doing so much as we transition from regular school to being at home, and they’re giving so much to us still anyway,” she said. “It’s been cool to watch them drive by, and my kids were excited to see all of them.”

Browning Springs Principal Jason Clark said his teachers are a blessing to him and his students.

“For students to see that they’ve got staff members, teachers and other classified staff members alike who truly have the kids’ best interests at heart, who come to work every day wanting to make a positive impact on the lives of these kids,” he said. “We’re just so blessed to be able to work with teachers who put students first and are always concerned about their needs being met.”

Today, both Grapevine and Earlington are having their parades. Earlington will begin its parade route at 12:30 p.m., and Grapevine will begin its route at 1 p.m.

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