Students around Mt. Juliet have not met at school since the beginning of March after the tornado destroyed two schools and the coronavirus continues to keep everyone at home. As a way to show support and appreciation for their students, many schools held parades throughout the last couple weeks.
“School isn’t just about academics. It’s also about relationships,” said Jeri Noel, a fifth grade teacher at Elzie D. Patton Elementary. “While we are apart and there is uncertainty around us, the parade was a way of showing solidarity. It was for me as much as it was for them.”
Teachers and students usually know when the end of the school year is approaching, so they have time to prepare to say goodbye. The suddenness of the tornado, and now the virus, have brought a new uncertainty for all.
“At the end of the school year, you have time to prepare for the disconnect you will have with a group of kids,” said Shannon Hickman, a fourth grade teacher at Gladeville Elementary. “We had this ‘break’ flung upon us and were not prepared for the sudden disconnect. I wanted to participate to continue the encouraging relationship I have with my students.”
West Elementary Principal Chris Plummer said the response from his school’s community was unbelievable.
“Kids and parents were clad with the biggest smiles and displayed homemade signs that showed their love and enthusiasm for their teachers,” he said. “There is no greater gift than the one that we experienced [last] Monday; we love our Bulldogs and we love this community.”
Students, parents and community members alike lined the streets as the teachers drove by, bringing with them a welcome distraction from the recent challenges.
“Our community has been through enough devastation that it was time to uplift each other and be together,” said Christine Miller, Springdale Elementary principal. “It was wonderful to see all of the smiles, waves and posters that the students made. We are a family that takes care of one another. This was a day that we shall never forget.”