Watkins teachers parade through community neighborhoods

JBW teachers bridge gap during school closures

Photo by: Mrs. Missy Hill
Jude Hill, joined by his little sister Wren, show their love for J.B. Watkins kindergarten teacher Mrs. Kathy Burnette at the Watkins staff parade on March 24, 2020.

One day after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that all Virginia schools would not reopen this school year due to a need for social distancing to flatten the curve of COVID-19, students, teachers, and parents felt the loss. The kids miss the teachers, and the teachers miss the kids. What to do? Plan a parade!

On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 4:00 pm, J. B. Watkins Elementary staff drove through local neighborhoods, reuniting the Watkins family from afar. Excited students lined the parade route, demonstrating that love conquers all. With signs, banners, and bright smiles, Watkins students displayed how much they miss their teachers, and teachers reciprocated from their cars with tears and waves. JBW kindergarten teacher Mrs. Michele McMullen shared, “We couldn’t say a real goodbye, so a majority of our staff had a parade, going through every neighborhood to wave to everyone. I love my school, co-workers, students, and community!” Her kindergarten class, which she lovingly refers to as her bunnies, stood along the streets of neighborhoods, such as Walton Park, to express their love and appreciation.

JBW kindergarten teacher Mrs. Kathy Burnette invited her Midlo Service Learning student, junior Faith Panebianco, to join the parade. Panebianco expressed, “I would say there were 40+ cars. This parade warmed my heart and brought a huge smile to my face!” One of Mrs. Burnette’s students, Jude Hill, joined by his little sister, Wren, made signs for the occasion. His mother, Mrs. Missy Hill, an assistant principal at Cosby High School, shared, “Jude misses his kindergarten teacher so much. When he learned Ms. Burnette and the rest of his Watkins family were coming to see him, he couldn’t wait to draw a picture and put on his blue and gold!”

This spirited effort on the part of the J.B. Watkins Elementary staff demonstrates how the necessary, but difficult, precaution to close schools has affected the entire community. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, CCPS will continue to find ways to bridge the gap to bring students and schools together, where they belong.