Northern Virginia teacher receives surprise ‘thank-you’ parade during ‘Teacher Appreciation Week’

“I wish I could hug you.”

That’s what fifth grade teacher, Maria Paska with Poplar Tree Elementary School said as her students and neighbors showed up at her house in Chantilly to say, ‘thank you’ on Monday afternoon.

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It’s the start of ‘Teacher Appreciation Week‘ where teachers are being recognized, now more than ever during the pandemic.

Paska told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan that she didn’t know why her daughter kept asking her to casually come join her on the front porch, only to be surprised by a line of honking cars with her students holding ‘Thank You’ balloons, cards and posters.

“I never expected this, never,” said Paska.

Paska is one of thousands of teachers across the D.C. region who have risen above what they were trained to do, adapting into remote distance teaching with virtually no preparation and other impromptu roles.

“They are keeping the continuity in their lives and keeping the friendships and the love of school alive,” said Anne Albright, a parent of one of Paska’s students.

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“I got a message from a parent who was like ‘You know, I sat and watched the lesson that you did with my son and I learned something too,’ and I was like great!" said a teacher in the District. 

Sarah and Drew Buckingham are teachers in Montogmery County. They’ve been creating 3D printed face shields which their students get to watch on a live stream and use the lesson to analyze the process and see the outcome. 

They are then given the opportunity to create their own designs on an online platform called TinkerCAD. 

The students will then send the teacher the file and to be printed. 

“Our team has been able to produce over 3,000 masks and has already distributed around 2500 masks,” said Drew Buckingham.

For Paskas it’s apparent that just like many other teachers, she and her students will end the school year apart but the relationship they each have with one another will bond them well beyond the fifth grade.

“I miss them so much,” said Paska.

Scott Brabrand, Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools sent a letter to parents in which he acknowledged the start of the appreciation week. 

“...I want to personally thank each and every teacher and staff member for the heroic work they are doing in support of our students, families, and community while maintaining a positive attitude during this stressful time. I encourage you to send a note to your child’s teacher or a staff member this week thanking them for all that they do.”

In the letter, Brabrand also assured that the school system is working on the return to school plans and will bring ideas to the School Board for an initial discussion at the Board’s May 11 meeting.