ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – A retired Volusia county teacher is impacting the lives of students, parents and drivers along North Ridgewood avenue in Ormond beach.
Trudie Ehrhardt has been waving to them every school day for the past four years. She walks along the street from 8:30 to 9:30 am and greets them with a ‘Good morning’ and a thumbs-up as students head to Ormond beach Middle school.
Despite a brisk winter morning, the act of kindness warms her heart with joy, Ehrhardt said.
"It just makes me focus on being happy and kind and nice," the grandmother of two said.
Ehrhardt said she began her daily morning waving routine to help her granddaughter transition from elementary school to middle school.
“She and her friends were going to middle school, which is traumatic if you could remember back -- especially going from a little tiny elementary school to a big middle school -- ... I’d wait for her and her mom, she’d come pass and I’d wave,” she said.
Ever since then she’s kept going. People in the neighborhood have nicknamed her the “waving lady” or the “waving nana.”
Ehrhardt is not just spreading kindness, she’s also looking out for her community.
"Another big thing that I do, is I yell at speeders. I still have one young man in a black Chevy, that insists on driving about 50 or 60 up and down the street," she said.
It's her small gesture of kindness that's going a long way, especially for the students of Ormond beach Middle school.
“Kids would stop being late to school 'cause I’d wave to them and say ‘Good morning and have a good day’ and then another kid was just having a bad year, and so mom took a picture of us together and his comment was, ‘He made it as a new kid through 8th grade,’” Ehrhardt. “It made him know that he had a friend every day.”
Last year, the school dedicated a page to her in their yearbook. Principal Susan Tuten said she feels Trudie is making a difference for them.
“It’s just a great way to for the students to start their day, knowing that there’s somebody out there thinking of them,” Tuten said. “There are just certain things and certain people that leave a lasting memory and I just think that when these children grow up, they’re always going to remember the waving nana.”
When Trudie is feeling under the weather, she sets up a waving sign just outside her home. Trudie said she hopes to continue her gesture of kindness as long as she is in good health.