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East County Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2020 2 months ago

Chalk up a surprise in Bradenton area

Gullett Elementary teacher draws birthday messages on students' driveways.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Samantha North, a third grade teacher at B.D. Gullett Elementary School, stood on the driveway of her student Nathaniel Molinar on April 12 planning how to design her birthday message to him.

She grabbed the white chalk she brought with her and started outlining block letters of “happy.” 

Nathaniel Molinar, a third grader at B.D. Gullett Elementary School, loves the message his teacher, Samantha North, made for him. "It was very kind of her to do that," Molinar says. Courtesy photo.

Meanwhile, inside the Molinar home in Greyhawk Landing, Erica Molinar, Nathaniel’s mother, was distracting him from looking outside and ruining his surprise.

North can’t celebrate her students’ birthdays as she would do if schools weren’t closed, so with parents’ permission, she goes to their homes to leave a surprise message on the driveway.

On April 13, Nathaniel Molinar walked outside on his 10th birthday to his driveway to play basketball during a break from e-learning.

It took him a few minutes before realizing his birthday message from North. 

“I was like, ‘What? How did I not see that?’” he said. 

Erica Molinar wasn’t surprised when North reached out to her about coming to the house to draw the message.

“She’s just fantastic, and she loves the kids,” she said. “I was very thankful because Nathaniel didn’t have a birthday party.”

Kellan Jones, a third grader at B.D. Gullett Elementary School, is surprised by the birthday message his teacher, Samantha North, drew for him. Courtesy photo.

The Molinars had to be creative in making sure Nathaniel Molinar didn’t look outside.

They spent time swimming in their pool, but while North was outside, they had to find a way to get Nathaniel Molinar from the pool upstairs to shower.

His brother, Steven, draped a towel over Nathaniel Molinar’s head.

“I threw the pool towel on his head and said, ‘I want you to be a ghost and trust me to walk up the stairs without you falling,’” Steven Molinar said.

They were a success.

“As teachers, we miss our kids right now,” North said. “We don’t get to see them, and that’s a part of teaching that’s the best part. … Just because we can’t see you, or we can’t hug you, it doesn’t mean that we don’t love you.”

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