Kolter Honors Teachers with Festive Parade
Hundreds of Kolter Elementary families held handmade posters and cheered for their teachers last week during a car parade celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week.
The parade, organized by PTO President and Teacher Appreciation Chairs Brooke Wagenheim and Hydee Kagan, saw dozens of teachers and other staff members roll through Meyerland streets to hear words of praise from their students.
To stay true to social distancing, teachers stayed in their cars, many of which were decorated with bright balloons and streamers. An officer from the local constable’s office helped honking vehicles navigate through neighborhood streets. Some teachers popped out of sunroofs to wave, while others brought along a furry friend in their backseat.
“The smiles were ear to ear,” says Kagan. “There were tears of joy and appreciation. There was laughter. There was community. There was so much love.”
When Kagan and Wagenheim brainstormed ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week, they wanted to focus on activities that could bring students and staff closer together after months of being physically apart. “Kolter has such a strong, close knit, positive community,” says Wagenheim, “and we knew the families would be up to our idea.”
During the parade, first grader Angelina Sorena beamed as she waved at her Chinese teacher, Wen Chen, as Chen spoke to students from inside her car. “This is so much better than Zoom,” Chen shouted. “We miss you.”
The school’s nurse, Cathy Crisp, decorated her car with oversized handcrafted band aids and a huge plastic bag full of fake ice for students’ “boos-boos.” Her car stereo blasted Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby.” Some students along the parade route answered the administration’s call for kids to dress up like their teachers.
Fourth grade teacher Kim O’Reilly, who’s been teaching for 17 years, said the parade was a welcome in-person encounter with students after weeks of seeing them on a computer screen. “We’re all doing the best we can to adapt to online formats, but there’s nothing that can replace in-person interaction,” she said. “Seeing all of the sweet little faces made me realize how much I deeply miss them all. It brought me to tears.”
The Kolter Elementary Teacher Appreciation Parade was the culmination of a week spent honoring Kolter teachers. On Monday, administrators dropped off goody bags full of treats to staff members’ homes, on Tuesday staff received Amazon gift cards, and on Wednesday they were given a pair of sunglasses - to help them feel “sun-sational." On Thursday, the school gave each staff member a credit for dinner from Fadi’s.
Since in-person school ended in March, Kolter homeroom teachers have made personal calls to their students, administrators pop in to classes as special guests, and staff dropped off custom lawn signs for each graduating fifth grader.
“We knew before all of this that our administration and teachers were fantastic,” said PTO President Margaret Flippen, “but now we can see it even more clearly in all they’ve done to keep our kids learning and connected.”
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