'I just cried:' Families show gratitude with surprise caravan to preschool teacher's home amid COVID-19

EVERETT, Wash. -- Many parents have a newfound respect for their child’s teacher since schools in Washington have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sometimes saying ‘thank you’ is just not enough. On Tuesday, a group of preschoolers and their parents showed appreciation by surprising their teacher with a caravan to her home in Everett.

“It’s great to have a teacher who cares so much about our students that tries to keep us together and really encourages us as parents to continue helping our kids, even though they may be young,” said parent, Natalie Vorhees.

Families have been missing Roni Maxwell ever since Mill Creek Foursquare Church’s preschool program closed under the state’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Parents said they’re grateful Maxwell still uses creativity to keep children active at home.

“All the work that goes into doing a Zoom call with 20 preschoolers, which is like herding cats. Just all the work that Ms. Roni puts in, it’s priceless for our daughter and for all the other families,” said parent Nathan Vorhees.

“To be able to try to figure things out and how to teach the kids from a different part is new because I don’t think anyone really knows how to do it, especially with four-year-old’s and five-year-old’s,” said Maxwell.

The unexpected trip to her neighborhood had Maxwell feeling the love.

“It was amazing. I think I’m still in shock. It was just such a wonderful gift to give me, especially I think now just because we got cut so short this year unexpected,” said Maxwell.

Time in the classroom may have been cut short for the school year, but the act of kindness is exactly the lesson Maxwell will continue teaching her students.

“I love what I do and it means everything to know that they appreciate it and they feel my love for their children. I adore their kids,” said Maxwell. “That was beyond anything I could ever imagine.”

Parents were on board with the plan for Maxwell as soon as they heard about it. More than 15 families showed up to participate in the surprise caravan.