How a high-five from a Mickey Mouse glove can make a kid's day.
The car-rider line at Bunnell Elementary School is like the line at all other schools in the county, I’m sure. It’s the place where parents drive forward, inch by inch, into each other’s exhaust clouds, and then the kids climb out and rush to their first class of the day, backpacks and pigtails bouncing with every step.
I go through this routine just about every morning, and I’ve always been impressed with the attitude of the teachers who are assigned to help the kids. One day I saw Liset Logan kneel down next to the car in front of us and welcome a child with open arms. The look of joy on Logan’s face was priceless and genuine, and I’m sure it made that child feel special.
The experience for the kids has been even more welcoming at Bunnell Elementary for the past couple of months, because of the Three Mousketeers: Logan, Jeanine Zeller and Tamara Haymes all wear oversized Mickey Mouse gloves on their right hands to wave the cars forward.
“To watch the light come on in their eyes — it’s touching. It’s the reason why I’m there.”
JEANINE ZELLER, Bunnell Elementary School teacher
The gloves come from Zeller, whose daughter, 22-year-old Flagler Palm Coast High School alumna Allie Rougeot, works at Disney. Allie told her mother, “With all the waving you do, you should wear the Mickey gloves!”
So Zeller bought them, thinking it would be a good way to “boost the kids’ spirits after Christmas vacation.”
Zeller told me recently, “We were only going to use them for a week, but there were a couple of days that we didn’t use them, and we had the parents and the students asking for them.”
And so the tradition continues.
Zeller is one of the many unsung heroes in our school district. After working with some kids with special needs at a daycare, she became a paraprofessional for Flagler Schools. She currently teaches sixth-graders in exceptional student education.
“To watch the light come on in their eyes,” she said, “it’s touching. It’s the reason why I’m there.”
That feeling motivates Zeller in the car-rider line, as well. “I love seeing the kids when they come in,” she said. “To me, it’s a chance to see the kids when you’re not actually educating them. You don’t know if they had a bad night, or if they were rushed in the morning. I think it makes the parents feel good that the kids are smiling on the way into school.”
One recent example was her interaction with a little boy who is usually always smiling as he gets out of the car. But one day, he got out and looked like he was ready to cry.
With the Mickey glove, Zeller gave him a high-five.
He looked up and said, “Thank you.”
“Did you have a tough morning?” Zeller asked.
The boy responded, “Yeah, but I’m OK now.”
Zeller said to me later, “I think at that point, we just never stopped with the gloves.”
I know my kids think the gloves are fun, too. Thanks to the Three Mousketeers at Bunnell, and all the other creative educators out there who make our community such a wonderful place.