SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls School District is losing one of its veteran teachers to retirement this year. Cindy Heyden has been an educator for 38 years.
33 of those years were spent teaching and loving her students at Harvey Dunn Elementary. Because of the coronavirus, the 4th grade instructor spent the last few weeks of her career educating her kids remotely. It’s not the way she wanted to go out and her friends and students are making sure it ends with a surprise parade of gratitude instead.
To celebrate Cindy Heyden’s educational efforts over the years requires one big, overwhelming celebration.
“All of a sudden these horns started blowing and we looked down and there was this whole stream of cars that surprised me,” Heyden said.
And they just kept coming. For someone who sends kids home every day with a hug or a high five, remote learning left a large hole.
“It wasn’t the same as being with them in person so to get to see so many of them here in person was awesome, absolutely awesome,” Heyden said.
Harvey Dunn librarian Amy Heinert, who recently recovered from coronavirus, says Heyden is one of those people who’s the heart and soul of the school.
“It’s just been so hard to end our school year this way. For someone who’s been in education so long to end her career this way has just been really tough. We just want to honor her,” Heinert said.
Car after car with signs and smiling faces will have to do in these times marked by COVID-19.
4th grader Julia Ohme is grateful to have experienced Heyden’s classroom and love.
“She was by far my favorite teacher. She was just so awesome. When you would walk in the classroom, I could just see her face and she’ll always have a special place in my heart,” Ohme said.
A special person honored with a special parade.
“This was amazing. To just have all of these cars drive by and wish me happy retirement just really pulled at my heartstrings,” Heyden said.
Heyden says she won’t be giving up Harvey Dunn and the classroom completely. She still hopes to volunteer at the school in the future so she can interact with the kids and her colleagues.