Mask-wearing teachers at Hubert R. Hudson Elementary greeted the dozens of students and their families who participated in the meet the teacher drive-thru event on Friday morning, as a way for them to reconnect safely and start the school year strong.
“We wanted to make sure that we connected with our students,” Principal Rachel Ayala said. “Last night we had our virtual meet the teacher and now we are doing our drive-thru event so that students not only see us on the screen but also physically and wave at us here at the school.”
As the cars drove by, teachers held signs that stated their name and grade as well as phrases such as “we miss you” and “stay safe” while dancing to the music that was playing in the background. Several colorful balloons were also displayed at the event.
“Our theme this year is ‘be different’ [and] we need to be the education world’s most different thinking people right now so that we can face everything head on and rise so that we can serve our students and serve our families,” Ayala said.
Hudson elementary serves more than 700 students, dozens of which attended the parade-style event by placing colorful signs on the car’s window to state their name and grade. Ayala greeted each one of the students throughout the day and said even though she has been an educator for more than 20 years, she feels as a first-year teacher due to all the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t think anybody does not feel as a first-year teacher or principal,” she said.
“It is just trying to be flexible, adjust and have a lot of patience but most importantly a lot of empathy for our students and our employees because we want to keep them safe and at the same time meet their educational needs, their socioemotional needs; they are going through so many changes and we as adults are going through so many changes.”
Michael Padron, a fifth grade teacher, said it has been a challenge to adapt to the new normal but that this academic year both the families and teachers are much more prepared to face this. He added students already have their electronic devices to start virtual learning on Tuesday.
“I don’t think anybody foresaw this but my experience with this has been that you kind of have to take the challenge and run with it. We can’t think about it too much because our students and the families depend on us,” he said.
“We had to very quickly adapt, both teachers and students. This school year I think that everybody is much more prepared so we are ready to go and we are very excited.”