When second grade teacher Rob Shea heard that a teacher caravan drive by was canceled at his school, Vintage Hills Elementary School in Temecula, he needed to find a way to be able to see and talk to his students.
“My wife, Trish, a teacher at Chaparral High School, suggested that we reverse the idea and have students drive by our house, so it would be much safer,” Shea said, adding that his wife’s students were planning to drive by later in the day.
“With the cancellation of the remainder of the school year, and distance learning starting this Monday, April 6, I wanted to keep my class motivated to learn and also let them know that I miss them and that everything is going to be OK,” he said.
Shea also invited some special guests to sit in his driveway and wave and talk to the students. Joining him were his wife, his mother Peggy, Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington and storytime volunteer Joan Moultrie.
“Are you keeping up with your reading?” Moultrie asked as each car came by.
When the students pulled up in front of the house, they saw the signs that Shea and his wife had made for the children with their names and words of encouragement.
Some of the students held signs out of the car windows, and each had a chat with their teacher. Shea also checked in with the parents of each student to see how they were holding up.
Shea has been teaching for 25 years, spending 11 years teaching fifth graders and 14 in second grade.
“It doesn’t matter if someone is teaching elementary school, middle school or high school, students want to know that you care about them,” Shea said. “Maintaining a personal connection with your students is key to their success. If the students know you care about them, they will certainly give you their best effort.”
Shea said being able to see most of his students come by the house to see him was uplifting.
“It was very heartwarming to see that students made signs for me and held them out of the car,” he said. “Also, a few VHES families showed up, and I did not have their children as students.
“The great thing about this event was that I got to speak to each student, individually, as they stopped by the house. It was more emotional than I thought it would be, knowing that I will now be teaching online, and not interacting with my students on a personal level each day,” Shea said.
During the event, teachers from Temecula Luiseño Elementary School drove through the neighborhood, honking and waving to the group, as they headed out on a caravan of their own.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.