NewsPositively Hampton Roads


Grafton High School principal, PTSA surprise teachers during pandemic

Posted at 11:51 AM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 17:36:03-04

YORKTOWN, Va. - A surprise knock at the door from your boss might not be what you're expecting during the coronavirus pandemic.

But for dozens of teachers from Grafton High School in Yorktown, that's what they got, along with a sweet treat thanking them for everything they do for the community's children.

“My 4-year-old daughter came running up and said, ‘Daddy, Daddy, there’s a big surprise here,'" said Matt Lewellen, a health and physical education teacher at the school. "I said, ‘Harlow, I’m in a meeting. Do I really need to come down?’ and she said, 'Yes, yes. There’s a big surprise.'"

It was a surprise knock from the principal at the school and volunteers with the Parent Teacher Student Association.

“It was really neat, not only for me but for my kids too,” Lewellen said.

A total of 110 teachers got a similar knock at the door, according to PTSA President Shannon George. She said each teacher got a gift bag with a cookie text, a sugary treat with a thank-you message on it.

News 3 spoke to three teachers and George over Zoom about the surprise.

“I was super excited,” said Kendall Lybert, a physical education teacher. “I had to do a double-take, like, 'What are you doing here?'”

Volunteers with the PTSA mapped out the addresses of all the teachers at the school, visiting Williamsburg, Hampton, Newport News, York County and Gloucester to deliver treats to everyone.

“It brought smiles to them, which brought smiles to us,” George said.

It’s been a difficult year after an electrical fire in early February displaced the middle and high schools.

Related: Virginia Beach principal continues burger bash from home to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week

“We had a really rough year at Grafton," said Jennifer Zwirschitz, a Spanish teacher. "The fire prepared us for unknowns, and this is just another situation where you have to roll with the punches, play the hand you’re dealt. That’s what we’re doing."

They said teaching from home has been different, but also beneficial.

“It’s a change and it’s different, but it’s a good change and we’re learning new things," Zwirschitz said. "I'm pushing myself to use technology I wouldn't normally use and trying to find different ways to get them the material."

“It’s actually been a really nice time to learn new things that we could incorporate into the classroom whenever we do get back,” Lybert said.

“Our PTSA is amazing. They treat us very well. They were very appreciative of us, and it didn’t surprise us that they would take the time to map this out, figure out all the logistics, make it happen - that’s just who they are and we really appreciate all they do to support us,” Zwirschitz said.

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.