Texas teacher begins drive-by visits to check in on her students

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – As the week that would have been most students’ Spring Break comes to a close, many Texas teachers are left wondering what’s next for their students.

It was that overwhelming feeling of sadness that led fifth-grade Horizon Heights teacher Leslie Gonzalez to develop a plan to reconnect with her students in person, while still practicing social distancing.

Ms. Gonzalez was lamenting to her best friend, Bonnie Soria Najera, that she feared she’d never get to say goodbye to her students who are moving to middle school next year. Then the pair hatched a plan.

Instead of calling each of her students as Gonzalez initially intended, Najera suggested they drive by each of the students’ homes with a poster board. On Saturday, Najera drove Ms. Gonzalez to each of the 25 student’s houses while Gonzalez called the parents on the phone and asked them to send their kids to the front porch.

Armed with a poster board that read “Hi!! I miss you so so much! Can’t wait to see you! (online),” Gonzalez and Najera were able to talk to each student and their parent from a safe distance.

During those sidewalk chats, Ms. Gonzalez gave each parent a list of good websites, video games, and other activities they could do together to keep active and continue to educate themselves while schools are closed.

Parents were thrilled to see Ms. Gonzalez, who provided a sense of normalcy and reassurance to their children during this uncertain time. “Thank you so much for what you did yesterday! I haven’t seen Abby that happy in a long time,” one parent told Ms. Gonzalez after the visit.

Students in Socorro ISD schools were initially scheduled to return from their two-week intercession this coming Monday before the coronavirus outbreak forced the district to extend their spring closure.

As of Sunday, students are still scheduled to return on April 6. However, Ms. Gonzalez said they’re not waiting that long to begin teaching their students. She plans to begin online courses with her students on Monday until further notice.

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