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May 12, 2023
Belcher Elementary got a surprise for Teacher Appreciation Week. Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Brandon Walton stopped by with several buddies from the team to wash teachers’ cars.
Walton and his mother, Dawn Lewis, who happens to be Belcher Elementary School’s principal, planned the event to celebrate teachers.
Walton’s mom asked him if he could fit a teacher appreciation car wash into his busy schedule, and he jumped at the opportunity. She’s always been generous and her giving nature rubbed off on him, he said.
He grew up with a mom who worked as an educator, and he saw how hard teachers work and how much support they need to run a classroom.
"I feel like if there's any way that I can help, you know, make their lives easier, I'm going to do that," Walton said.
This was a big year for Lewis and her son, who was a former Seminole High School football star.
“He made the squad. I became a principal,” Lewis said. “We wanted to do something together.”
The teacher-appreciation car wash was a hit. Cars were lined up from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
“I love watching the faces of the teachers light up,” Walton said.
Walton was a campus celebrity. In between washing cars, he signed autographs for staffers, including Diane Cready, who works in the front office, and HPO Mike Campagna.
The kids loved it, too. Students watched the football players wash their teachers’ cars during their art, music or PE classes.
“They are so excited to see their teachers be spoiled,” said Behavior Specialist Mia Angelis.
A few administrators and about a dozen special education students also helped out.
“We love our staff,” said Assistant Principal Stephanie Blackman, while scrubbing away. “We just wanted to show we appreciate them for the hard work they do every day. I’d do it every day of the year if I could.”