CLARKTON, NC (WWAY) — Caroline McKernan reflected on the moment her father returned from Afghanistan in a surprise visit at her school. “It felt like I was kinda’ in a dream,” she said. “You know, I really couldn’t feel anything. It was a really cool experience for me.”
It was an experience made possible all thanks to her sixth grader teacher Tiffany Gooden. Gooden knew how much a surprise reunion with Caroline’s father would mean to the student, so she began emailing with Major Bill McKernan months ago.
After what seemed like forever, her plan became reality in December at Clarkton School of Discovery.
“I was planning the whole weekend trying to figure out the perfect situation,” Gooden smiled.
WWAY got to be in on the surprise too. Our cameras were there to capture the special moment under the guise that Gooden was WWAY’s Teacher of the Week. But then the real story began when Maj. McKernan showed up on stage from behind a blue curtain. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“It was more about Caroline and less about me. I just wanted her and her father to have a wonderful moment,” Gooden said.
But one month later, we really got to honor her for her hard work in and outside the classroom.
Caroline remembers the first time she met Mrs. Gooden and said, “She started talking to me, getting to know me better then I got to know her better and then we, now she’s kinda’ like a mom to me at school.”
Hearing that was enough to bring tears to Gooden’s eyes who said, “I feel honored, I have two children so I come to school and I want children to feel safe with me.”
With an unforgettable reunion with her dad tucked away in her memory, Caroline wanted her teacher to have the spotlight.
Gooden is the Teacher of the Week.