WILMINGTON — On Saturday night’s “One World: Together at Home” fundraising concert to benefit the global health efforts of the World Health Organization, former Wilmington resident and now principal of the David Mindess Elementary School in Ashland, Michael Caira was recognized by Ellen DeGeneres for having dance parties with his students.
This global health benefit concert was curated by Lady Gaga and put on by the organization Global Citizen to raise money for frontline healthcare workers and the WHO, according to Global Citizen’s website. Over the course of two hours, this global special boasted spirit-lifting performances from famous artists including John Legend, Lizzo, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, and Stevie Wonder, all from the comfort of their homes.
World-famous talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres used her time during the concert to shout out Caira for his efforts to stay connected and spread joy in the middle of this pandemic. After receiving the shoutout, Caira posted on Twitter that he was humbled and honored by it.
Caira and his family have shown up at the front lawn, or across the street, of many of his students at Mindess Elementary for a dance party.
“[My family and I] pick a route in the morning, let parents know what streets we’re visiting, and hit anywhere from eight to 15 streets on the way,” he shared over the phone.
He sees it as an opportunity for folks in Ashland to stay connected to the school and to forget about this situation for a minute while they smile, laugh, and dance.
The idea for drive-by dance parties came from Caira’s wife, after they posted a video of Caira and his daughter dancing the “Cotton-Eye Joe.” It also is closely inspired by the daily greetings with music and high-fives and Friday morning dance parties that Caira and his assistant principal at Mindess would host outside of the school before classes start for that day.
While he’s grateful to be a representative of the staff at the David Mindess Elementary School in Ashland, Caira expressed that the people who really deserve to be recognized are the teachers.
“My dance parties are secondary to the work that our teachers are doing,” he said. “Teachers are checking in with Zoom meetings; they’re providing whole class, small group, and one-on-one lessons. They’re doing so much more work than I’m doing.”
He called the teachers at Mindess the “heroes in all of this.”
Sharing also that he’s glad to get to work in the community of Ashland, he’ll keep dancing his way through town to bring joy in this challenging time. His daughters, who often participate in the daily dance parties, were excited to hear DeGeneres mention their dad’s name when they watched the concert the next day, in a video in a Tweet from Caira’s account.