For Carus Elementary School kindergarten teacher Nicole Nelson, the hardest part of the coronavirus pandemic has been not being able to hug her students.
“This is all such uncharted territory for us,” she told the Canby Now Podcast this week. “We are teachers — lovers and huggers by nature, and now, we can’t come within six feet of our littles.”
Well, in the words of Ian Malcolm, “Life, uh, finds a way,” and for Carus teachers and staff, love and hugs do the same thing.
On Friday morning, they delivered a “drive-by hug,” organizing a parade through the neighborhoods of the families and students they will not be able to welcome back to their classrooms until the next school year.
“I wanted to do it so our students could see their teachers and we could see our families that we miss so much,” Nelson explained. “It was a chance to spread sunshine during this not-so-‘sunny’ time!”
About 40 teachers and assistants participated, Nelson said, along with a half-dozen Clackamas County sheriff’s deputies who escorted the procession. (Because, let’s just be honest, how can you have a parade without the lights and sirens of some friendly first responders?)
Nelson shared the parade route, which started at Baker Prairie Middle School and wound approximately 14 miles through most of the Carus school area’s residential neighborhoods, in a local Carus parent-teacher Facebook group, and hundreds turned out watch the show — many holding their own homemade signs.
Nelson said the experience was more emotional that she had expected.
“My teacher heart is full,” she said. “There were several times that I was brought to tears. The biggest one was seeing a sign that one of my munchkins made that said, ‘Mrs. Nelson I Miss Your Hugs.'”
Parents also signaled their appreciation online, expressing how much the gesture meant to them and their children.
“THANK YOU CARUS TEACHERS!!!” Angela Hawes wrote. “I meant to take video/pics as you drove past, but I got so caught up in the moment, I forgot. That was an amazing example of your love and dedication to our students. We love and miss you!”
“This is why I love Carus school,” another simply said. “They care so much about their students.”