When this New York City teacher missed her pre-K students amid coronavirus, instead of sending them a message, she sang it.
To brighten each student's day and still foster a connection, Dawn Thompson traveled to her 21 students' homes giving each a concert by singing, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."
With a speaker and a sign that read, "I'll always be here!" Thompson, a teacher at Elijah G. Stroud Elementary school in Brooklyn, New York, sang loud and proud. One of those moments was caught on camera and later shared in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's daily coronavirus newsletter.
"One morning after [online class] with them,
"I'm like 'this is not enough. I need to see them. I need to let them know that I'll always be here,'" she said. "They're so used to seeing their friends every day and seeing me every day and getting hugs, and now they're confined."
Thompson said her first step was reaching out to all of their parents and asking for feedback on her outside visit, just to make sure everyone was comfortable with the idea. She said she only received positive comments.
"Here is our address! Please come! The kids will love to see you! We would love to see you!" she recalled.
Camille Hunt, the mother of 4-year-old student Ruby Holmsten, said as a parent it was touching to see Thompson go above and beyond for her students.
"[Thompson didn't just] sing the chorus, but the entire song in front of our apartment," she said, noting that neighbors were standing on the balconies clapping. "It was great. I mean, I think at that point, they hadn't been in school in a month-and-a-half and that was right when they were realizing they weren't going back anytime soon."
Hunt said Ruby was surprised to see her teacher outside of the classroom, but the shock quickly turned to excitement.
"I think in some kids' minds, they don't imagine their teachers living outside of school," said Hunt. "But then [Ruby] started listening to the lyrics and got what was going on, it was really sweet."
Thompson said her school has been implementing remote learning since mid-March.
"I didn't want to just show up with a mask on my face. I wanted to make the visits fun and interactive, because in the classroom, we're singing and dancing a lot. I play a lot of music," said Thompson.
"It's not good enough to stand there for a picture. I'm from the Caribbean, from Trinidad, we love music. Music is a part of our life ... especially if you want a song that says something," Thompson added.
Thompson, who has made more visits since the performance, says she plans to continue to visit her students at a safe, social distance.