She has equipment for her journey: Harmonica. Pompom. Ribbon stick. And a megaphone—for communicating from a safe social distance.
Above all, she has her traveling companion—Bear. That’s with a capital B, if you please. “The bear's name is Bear!” says Mrs. Kristen Turrietta, second grade teacher, about her enormous, stuffed pal. “He came out for COVID-19. He has been home and he wanted to get out. So I said he could come with me.”
Come with me…where? On an odyssey that is taking the duo from Sandbridge to Newport News, personally visiting the homes of all 20 boys in Mrs. Turrietta’s homeroom of 2A.
Like all of her colleagues at Norfolk Academy, she has been Zooming daily with the boys in her homeroom, 2A—teaching reading, math, and much more. She knew that the boys were getting instruction and enjoying the virtual connection. Yet she also understood that they were missing her, and she was missing them too. Zoom was good, an excellent tool for the times…but it just wasn’t quite enough.
So this week, she shared her schedule with parents and embarked on her travels. She has a routine for each stop: “I have two chairs, one for Bear and one for me,” she explained. “And I set up my chairs next to my car. Sometimes the family sits on the grass or on the front steps…The boys are usually waiting for me in the driveway."
She has some jokes ready, pitch-perfect for a second grader:
“Q: Have you heard the one about the germ?
Reply: No, I haven't.
Answer: Never mind. I don't want to spread it around!”
Sometimes the boys have a few jokes ready for her too. She teaches them about dancing with a ribbon stick. She expected that each visit would take about 15 minutes, but most turn out to be about twice that length. There’s just so much to share (through a megaphone) and the parents want to chat too. So she and Bear expect to finish their tour early next week.
The last thing she does before departing is to blast out the Song of the Week, which has been a class tradition all year. The song for this odyssey: The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”
And when the boys of 2A see her car coming, they most certainly would agree.