DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. – At least 35 states, including Florida and Georgia, have ordered or recommended closing schools through the rest of the school year.
Social distancing and virtual learning have teachers across the country missing their students more than ever.
With kids across the state not returning back to a school building this year, teachers are getting creative with how they show their support.
One local teacher is bringing encouragement and optimism to his students one horn honk at a time.
"I came to a place where I missed my kids," said Jack Leon, Lavilla School of the Arts educator.
Honking the horn and waving encouraging signs, Jack Leon is going the extra mile to show his students a little appreciation.
Leon is an educator at Lavilla School of the Arts - he figured out a unique way to see his students while continuing to practice social distancing.
"I'm going to go see my kids. And so I took all of my student's addresses from their school file and I organized them by zip code and I made zones. I made five zones and every day I've been going out and seeing about 20 or so kids a day," said Leon. "I just roll up to their house, honk the horn, and they come out. I have signs that just encourage them to finish strong, that they're loved, and that they're missed. And then I go to the next house."
So far, Leon has visited about 60 students and their families.
He plans to visit another 40 plus homes by the end of this week.
"I know what it's like to be an 8th grader going through something life-altering and needing to have answers or figure it out or know what's going. So that kind of makes it motivating for me to be able to go out and do this," said Leon.
Leon was an 8th grader attending Lavilla when 9/11 happened.
He says teachers have to find creative ways to love their kids during these uncertain times.
“It just brings joy to their lives. It’s sometimes a 30 second moment. But it’s making their days, it’s making their week. It’s making them realize that they are important. And that even though they’re not coming back to 8th grade in a classroom they need to finish strong. They need to get ready for high school. So that’s been a cool thing to just be able to encourage them like hey don’t give up, just don’t give up,” said Leon.
Taking the extra mile with a few added honks to remind students that even in the middle of a pandemic - kindness, joy, and encouragement aren't canceled.
Leon plans to visit his students in the Midtown, Beaches, and Arlington areas throughout the rest of this week.
Be kind and do what you can to share positivity during these times.