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Kindness in Real Life: Teachers bring cheer with parade around town

After a week of distance learning, elementary school students throughout Ledyard and Gales Ferry got to see their teachers March 30, if even only for a few minutes.

Teachers from Gallup Hill School, Gales Ferry School and Juliet W. Long School took to the streets for vehicle parades through their respective districts. Faculty members decorated their cars with balloons, signs and other decorations, waving to students and families who stood at the ends of their driveways and cul-de-sacs.

“Our intent was to let our students know we are thinking of them, we are here for them, and we wanted to bring a message of positivity in a fun way,” Gallup Hill School Principal Pam Austen said.

Kristen and Michael Smith watched the parade with their daughters Hadley, a second-grader, and Isla, a kindergartener; both attend Gales Ferry School. They held up signs for their teachers and waved “Gus the Plus,” a plus-sign character Isla made as part of her addition lessons that week.

Kristen said her daughters have been using Google Classroom and Seesaw for their lessons at home, with “specials” like music and art held once a week.

Hadley said she enjoyed the parade and she misses her teachers.

In chats with fellow teachers and staff, Gallup Hill kindergarten teacher Ashley Zelinski said the parade made it “the best day.”

“I was so amazed to see our huge line of cars and how many families were out waiting for us with awesome signs,” she wrote.

“I was overwhelmed with the amount of support for educators in our community,” wrote Gales Ferry/Juliet long music teacher Emma Taylor. “People who weren’t even with children were standing outside cheering and clapping as we passed. It was moving for me and made me proud to teach in Ledyard.”

Kindness in Real Life is a regular feature in The Times. To contribute, email times@theday.com.

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