Red carpet gives educators a ‘feel like a celebrity’ morning
Most of the parents and students outside Widewater Elementary School on Friday were still adjusting their posters and noisemakers when Kathy Bobenrieth made her way to the red carpet.
But a single shout of “We’ve got one!” from one of the students sent cheers rippling through the crowd.
A Taylor Swift song belted from the radio as Bobenrieth waved and pumped the air with her hands as she became the first educator to make her way down the red carpet, a tradition for teacher appreciation week at Widewater.
“It makes you feel like a celebrity. I just feel so special,” said Bobenrieth, an instructional paraprofessional at the Stafford County school. “They really just go all out. We are really fortunate.”
Splayed in front of the school’s entrance and lined with cheering students, the red carpet led teachers, teacher assistants and staff into the last day of the week—and their last school day before Standards of Learning tests Monday.
Each time a teacher or staff member was seen getting out of the car or rounding the corner toward the carpet, Friday’s early morning calm was broken by pep songs, cheers and the clatter of the noisemakers supplied to the students. Most held up posters expressing gratitude for their teacher.
Bobenrieth was followed by teams of teachers from different grades, all vying for the prize for red carpet walk and costume.
“It has become a big thing,” said Tamara Engleman, vice president of the school’s parent–teacher organization. “I really love the teachers and staff here, and what better what to show them.”
A group of kindergarten teachers looking like beauty pageant contestants competed with the disco-styled first-grade teachers and “one in a minion” second-grade teachers dressed as the minions from “Despicable Me.” Not to be outdone, third-grade teachers donned fake beards and camouflage clothing to look like characters from the television show “Duck Dynasty.”
“We are happy, happy, happy,” they all chorused together after their red carpet walk was complete, echoing the popular phrase from the show.
The fifth-grade teachers and teacher assistants punctuated the lineup by dressing as nerds.
Tajah Hardy, a fifth-grader, pumped the air with her poster displaying the name of one of her favorite teachers, Courtney Nunnally. For Nunnally and some other first-year teachers at Widewater, it was their inaugural walk down the red carpet.
“He was excited because they didn’t do it at his old school,” Hardy said of Nunnally.
Next to Hardy, second-grader Johniece Reynolds held a poster for Pam Schwartz.
“She is a sweet teacher. She gives you fake money and then you get to go to the treasure chest,” Reynolds said.
This was the third year the school has done the red carpet walk. The costume trend started the first year, when the first teacher to arrive showed up in a prom dress after catching wind of the event.
“When you come around the corner and see it, you can’t help but smile and feel appreciated. It does wonders for you,” Widewater Principal Kristen McKinney–Nash said.
Her son was home sick Thursday, but McKinney–Nash said she prodded him to return Friday since he was feeling better.
“I told him, ‘Today is red carpet day, we can’t miss it,’” McKinney–Nash said.
Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975