WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) - A photo of little Kinsley Wright’s loved ones peering through a window to see her start her first day of kindergarten shows their dedication, but it fails to reveal the distances they’ll go out of passion for family.
Kinsley, who started at Wetumpka Elementary School on Tuesday, could only be escorted into the building by one masked parent because of policies developed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And so it was decided her mom, Kayla, would be the one to walk with her. The girl’s dad would have to sit in the car with her grandparents, aunt, and a niece.
Kayla Wright said her in-laws and niece drove in that morning from Roanoke, a small town in rural Randolph County about 80 miles away. And they were all met just in time by her sister-in-law who finished an overnight shift in Atlanta and immediately got on the road for the three-hour journey.
They initially were just going to stop by the house and see Kinsley off, but decided that after already commuting long distances, what was another short trip? So, at the last minute they all decided to drive over to the school.
“They all understood they couldn’t come in,” Mom said. While they all wanted to see the little girl off in person, technology would have to do. As Kayla walked her daughter down the hallways, the rest of the family settled for a live Facetime video.
And then the door to veteran kindergarten teacher Katie Cole’s classroom swung open. Kinsley greeted her new teacher and classmates. Cole has been teaching kindergartners for 14 years at WES, and she gravitated toward the new student and her mom.
After introductions the conversation quickly turned toward the family watching on the cellphone. It was then that Cole found out they weren’t watching from afar. They were literally just beyond her classroom in an SUV.
“This is the craziest start we have ever had,” Cole said of the pandemic. She went to the window, opened it, and asked them to come see the classroom a little closer.
And so they all got out of the vehicle. “Honey, we looked out and there was a crowd,” Cole exclaimed! “That is some family support right there, for sure.”
The moment would have most likely been tucked away in their own phone photo galleries, unshared with anyone beyond family, had it not been for Natasha McMillan, the school’s counselor.
McMillan snapped the photo from the sidewalk and shared it with her friends on social media.
“I had to share this precious story because it absolutely warmed my heart,” she said in her post. “Only one parent can walk their kindergartener in this year due to COVID. This family had members drive all the way from Atlanta just to watch their baby go into kindergarten through a window. Talk about a support system.”
And it is a support system, but not one developed to cope with the pandemic.
“They are always there. They are always supportive,” Kayla laughed, though she wasn’t joking. In fact, they made the very same long distance trek for Kinsley’s older brother, Brayden, when he started kindergarten a few years earlier.
The tight-nit family makes it a priority to be together often, to the point Kinsley looks for them at baseball games, dance recitals and other events. And she’s not often disappointed.
“This has nothing to do with COVID,” Kayla explained. ”This is just who they are.”
And as quickly as the memory was made, everyone was back on the road to their respective homes. But we all know home is really just where the heart is.
As for Kinsley? The first day of school was a big success. “Pretty girl,” as her dad calls her, had a very good first day.