Coral Springs, Florida – On the final day of work before the summer break, the principal of Park Springs Elementary School in Coral Springs made an announcement over the school’s speakers – asking staff to come to her office if they wanted a free cruise.
“I started running over there,” said Maria Rivas, a teacher at the school for 22 years.
The school had secured gifted cruises from Virgin Voyages for all 100 teachers, office staff, and facility workers. “I was so happy. As soon as I got the flyer, I went back to my classroom and booked it,” Rivas said.
This comes because Kimberly Faiello, a parent whose children attend the school at 5800 NW 66 Terrace, works for the cruise line and saw a recent school newsletter asking businesses to support the school’s staff. So Faiello and her colleagues responded with offers for four to eight-night cruises in the Caribbean or Mediterranean – everything covered except for taxes and port fees.
“It’s a gift for all of their hard work,” said Faiello, a Coral Springs resident whose son, Jackson, just graduated from the school and her other son, Kyle, finished second grade.
According to Principal Denise Hanson, who finished her first year as principal of the school, in all, 96 staff members will be heading out to cruise the seas in the coming weeks and months. “They all deserve this,” she said. “They are excited and grateful.”
Hanson credits Virgin Voyages for stepping up and boosting the spirits of her staff who have had to deal with the stress of teaching and managing the school with the uncertainties of the pandemic over the past two years. Last year, Virgin Voyages also offered free cruises to 100 workers at Baptist Health. “People should utilize companies that support educators,” Hanson said.
For Rivas, she and her husband will be heading out on a cruise in the Caribbean over the Christmas break, stopping in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Bimini. “It’ll be our time together,” said Rivas, who has been a teacher, in total, for 34 years. “We really need this and appreciate it.”