‘Seeing their smiling faces brought tears to our eyes’

MONROE, CT — The “Quaran-Teacher” Day parades made for a memorable day for teachers on Tuesday as families showed their love and appreciation for the staff members of Jockey Hollow, Stepney and Fawn Hollow schools.

Teachers stood in the school parking lots as a line of cars with decorations, balloons and signs with messages like “We miss you!” and “Thank you for teaching us!” drove by. Children, parents and teachers, who have been separated since school buildings closed down in favor of distance learning in March, waved and exchanged warm smiles.

Jockey Hollow Middle School Principal Jack Ceccolini expressed his gratitude to Adrienne Stepkoski and the PTO for organizing the uplifting event at his school.

“The teachers, staff  and I were moved by your display of admiration and affection,” he said. “You truly brought inspiration and hope at the perfect time.”

Becky Coppola, a Jockey Hollow teacher, said, “what a spectacular gathering of teachers and students. It was both soul-filling and heart wrenching at the same time. Seeing my students provided a beautiful lift to my spirits, having not seen them for so long, and by the smiles on their faces, I think they felt the same!”

“It was so heart warming to see such an outpouring of support for our teachers,” said Nathan Smith, the Jockey Holllow/STEM PTO co-president. “They seemed so very grateful. It was nice to be able to connect with them, if only for a few moments and at a distance. I don’t think I will ever forget it.”

Victoria Whalen, a parent, said, “we went to support and thank the teachers. As we approached the crowd of teachers waving with their families, I quickly realized how much we needed to see them.”

It was also a moving experience for students, including Jockey Hollow sixth-grader Mackenzie Stepkoski. “It was amazing, but it was both a happy and sad experience,” she said.

Stepney Elementary School

A mix of emotions were felt following the parade at Stepney Elementary School.

“To see the faces of our students on the day the governor announced no in-school learning for the rest of the year was just what teachers needed — the smiles and tears!” said Laura Ann Lawlor, a teacher.

Fellow teacher, Kelly Pecca, said, “it was such a bittersweet feeling. I felt happiness getting to see our students’ faces in person, rather than over a computer, but also sadness knowing we won’t get to end the school year in person with them.”

Stepney PTO Co-President Theresa Oleyar expressed her gratitude to Stepney’s teachers, their families and to Stepkoski “for starting the parade phenomenon in Monroe and bringing it to Stepney.”

“I think it was just what we all needed today,” she said.

“My youngest was so happy to see and talk to Mrs. Cassone,” Annie Scarano, a parent, said of her child’s teacher. “Everyone needs a teacher to make you feel special and she’s that for my Jonny. He begged me to go around again. We are missing our teachers and our friends deeply. It was so nice to have this opportunity to say, ‘hi’ and ‘thank you!’”

“This parade made my child’s eyes tear up from joy, along with the biggest, most genuine smile I have see on her face for weeks now,” said Rawan Shaham, another parent. “She said, ‘it is normal again, because this made me miss my teachers even more!’ Thank you Stepney teachers and faculty for bringing joy to my child once again! We miss you!”

Stepney Parent Molly Simons-Smith said the event was “literally the hope and light of our week.”

Fellow parent, Jen Sciarappa, said, “it was really amazing! We miss everyone so much! Thank you Adrienne Stepkoski.”

Carter Stepkoski, a Stepney first grader, also enjoyed the experience.

“I liked to see everyone and everything,” he said. “I was waving out the window to everybody. I felt so happy, because I saw so many teachers and we hadn’t seen them because of the coronavirus. That made me so happy. “

Fawn Hollow

Amanda Friedlander, a first grade teacher, at Fawn Hollow Elementary School, said the parade was just what the community needed.

“It was so heartwarming to see our colleagues and, most importantly, our beloved students,” she said. “Seeing their smiling faces brought tears to our eyes. It is heartbreaking that we can’t return to school, but this situation has brought us together in so many ways. We are strong and we are still connected through it all!”

Shannon Grumet, a Fawn Hollow parent, who is an educator in Newtown, said, “it was wonderful to let our teachers know what a wonderful job they are doing during these unprecedented times in person. We truly appreciate all that they’ve done for our children.”

The day was not only special for teachers. Gloria Ganino, a school nurse, said, “it was so touching seeing all the families drive by. Definitely felt the love. Miss you all!”

Kristyn Gorman, a parent, said the parade provided an emotional lift on the heels of news that students and teachers will not be returning to school for the rest of the academic year.

“Seeing the teachers and staff for what could be the last time of the school year was definitely a tear jerker,” Gorman said.

Principal Becky Kosisko said the parade exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“Staff were thrilled to see our students and their families,” she said. “We were delighted by the warm wishes displayed on cars and posters, as well as exclamations of joyful recognition.”

“In this unique environment, the parade was a symbol of the strong bond Fawn Hollow shares with our community,” Kosisko added. “We love and appreciate our families and are sincerely grateful for their support.”

Roxy Castro-Mazzeo, a school secretary, said, “it was so heartwarming to see all the children and families at our Teacher/Staff Appreciation Parade. It was such a great feeling to know how much we are appreciated by our families! We miss you!”

Stephanie Samela, a parent, said of her daughter, “Annabella was excited to show her appreciation to her teachers. The parade was very emotional, seeing everyone come together in this time. There was nothing better than seeing the smiles on everyone’s face.”

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