Hillside Elementary teachers organize drive-by parade

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Schools across the country are closed because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

It's forcing teachers to find creative ways to connect with their students. Teachers at Hillside Elementary decided to come up with a drive-by parade.

"Smith girls, I miss you," called out the Hillside Elementary principal Cynthia Bailey.

"We love our families. Our Hillside community, I get chills sometimes - they're just supportive, they're positive, they're staying in there, they're hanging in there. They love their kids, they love the staff and we love them," Bailey said.

One by one, cars filed into the empty parking lot just before 11 a.m.

"I have a feeling this will be a long parade," Bailey added with a laugh.

Teachers were ready to keep a safe distance and spread some joy to their students and parents stuck at home.

Erin Palzer has five kids at home.

"It's been, it's been a struggle," she tells 6 News.

The children are taking their lesson plans in stride but what they're missing is their teachers.

"All of our kids love the teachers. Every single one of them," Palzer said.

Luckily today, those teachers came by to say hello.

Cars were honking down the street, signs were taped to their doors and teachers shouted hello.

"Hi Annebelle, and Amarria and Arysta," shouted Crystal Shirkey, a kindergarten teacher. "Hi guys, I miss you!"

Shirkey has been with the school for 18 years. Her first career choice was actually becoming a police officer, but her mother told her she was too small. So Shirkey decided to become a teacher because it was the next best way to help others.

"I could never do anything but this, it's the best," Shirkey said.

She's had two of Palzer's children in her classroom, Annebelle's time has been interrupted by the coronavirus.

"Oh this is hard," Shirkey said wiping away tears. "Uhm it's been really hard. It's been hard not to see them. Make sure they're doing okay. It's just been hard."

From the teachers who organized it, to the parents standing outside with their children, this parade is a way to connect when the world is demanding separation.