Teacher of 40 years surprised with car parade to celebrate her retirement

Teacher of 40 years surprised with car parade for retirement

WATSON, La. (WAFB) - It should have been a big party to celebrate the end of a 40-year teaching career for Mrs. Kim Benvenutti Habhab, but the pandemic did not allow that.

“I was expecting maybe a party, but it wasn’t important to me, just as long as the kids knew how I felt and the parents knew how I felt and I loved every moment of it,” said Mrs. Habhab.

Since 1984, Mrs. Habhab had been teaching health and physical education at Live Oak Jr. High in Watson.

“I just felt like it was time to let the new blood come in and teach. My dancing skills are not what they used to be. I taught line dancing to everybody in Watson and teaching the kids of the kids I teach, and I finally realized that I think I taught a grandmother and it was time for me to quit,” said Mrs. Habhab.

That’s when Alice Shoemaker, a former student of Mrs. Habhab’s from 1987, came up with the idea of a surprise car parade and took to Facebook.

“I am overwhelmed. When they said that we were going to have a fire truck and the deputies were going to lead us, I really did not know what to expect, to be honest. I was just like put some signs on your car and let’s go beep the horn,” said Shoemaker.

Because it was a surprise, Mrs. Habhab’s friend asked to come over for a cup of coffee, of course from a distance.

“She came over and I said, ‘I see somebody parked in my yard. I said what’s going on.’ She said, ‘I don’t know. Don’t go out there. Don’t go out there.’ All of a sudden, I hear somebody on the mic yelling my name and that’s when I came out and saw what was going on. I had no idea,” said Mrs. Habhab.

It became a Mardi Gras of sorts with a long line of cars, decorated signs, tossing out treats, even toilet paper and more.

“I guess they think I need it, especially the diapers. I don’t know why they would think that,” said Mrs. Habhab.

Leading the parade was the school resource officer, Deputy Chad Dupuy who said it was an honor especially given the times now.

“With the stress level right now but to do something like this, something happy, like a celebration, it gives you a little break in a little moment of happiness to hold onto and make memories,” said Deputy Dupuy.

And memories are exactly what they made! A fire engine even joined in on the car parade. You could say an entire community gave back to a woman who has given four decades to teaching children.

“Magnificent, that’s what she is all around,” said Shoemaker. “She’s very special, very special.”

“It is overwhelming but well worth the 40 years,” said Mrs. Habhab. “There were so many special people in that car parade and they know they are special to me. I just appreciate them taking the time and doing this for me.”

We want to hear your story of joy during this time of chaos. Join our Facebook group Reason to Smile, or upload a picture or video below.

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.