Fairway Elementary second-grade teacher Jane Leeker planned on attending a 3 p.m. staff Zoom meeting May 8. Instead, Leeker greeted some unexpected guests outside her home.
Dozens of students, parents and colleagues prepared a surprise vehicle parade for Leeker’s retirement after 18 years in the district. They arrived in front of her home in what seemed to be a never-ending line of cars stretched into the cul-de-sac.
“My family was lined up at the window, and I thought, ‘What are you guys doing?’” said Leeker. “Then my daughter said, ‘There’s a policeman coming down the street.’ That’s when I went to the door, and I saw the first sign that said, ‘Congratulations.’”
Leeker stood on her front lawn wiping away tears as people drove by honking their horns and waving posters. Some brought gifts that were handed over to the longtime educator.
“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Leeker. “I have such a loving community of staff and families I teach at Fairway. They’ve made a big difference in my life. To know that I’ve made a difference in theirs and having current and former students stop by, I’m so touched.”
Eureka High freshman Payton Deakin, who had Leeker in fourth grade, participated in the celebration.
“Mrs. Leeker was one of my favorite teachers in elementary school,” said Deakin. “She’s such a good teacher, and she always supported me. I made a really nice sign to show her my love and appreciation.”
Leeker said she plans to continue teaching through her grandchildren and hopes to stay active in education.
“I want to stay connected with Fairway and Rockwood,” said Leeker. “I want to volunteer in any way I possibly can.”