Everyone knows that certain jingle you sometimes hear out in the front yard during the summer, the unmistakable sound of an ice cream truck rolling by. Soon, there’s a frantic hunt for loose change and spare dollar bills, as children and adults alike can be heard crying out, “The ice cream man is coming! The ice cream man is coming!”
I remember calling out the same thing when I was young, and as far back as I can remember I dreamed that one day I would sell ice cream and sweets just like him, to own a place that created such excitement in people, especially children.
As I got older, I became interested in fitness too, and wanting very much to be around children and have a meaningful influence in their lives, I decided to combine two of my passions and become an elementary physical education teacher. I’ve loved every moment of it.
Still, every now and then, I’d hear that ice cream truck jingle sounding in the back of my mind.
So two years ago, at the age of 46, I saw 50 coming up on the horizon and decided if I ever wanted to live out my childhood dream, to have all my passions realized, I had better do what I tell my students all the time: Get moving.
I realized that having a fixed candy or ice cream store to mind while teaching would have been tough, but having a way to bring sweets to people on my own schedule would give me a lot more flexibility. That jingling noise got a lot louder. I took an equity line out on my house, bought a truck, stuffed it with ice cream and sweets, and took to the streets.
Now I am not just the P.E. teacher at Hollymead Elementary in Charlottesville, but the P.E. teacher who happens to also be the ice cream lady. My name is getting out there, people see me at the beaches and parks, and I get asked to do all sort of events, birthday parties, horse shows, even weddings.
People ask me how I can be both the person who helps make kids fit at school while selling ice cream and candy to them after the dismissal bell rings. The answer is simple: I love sweets and I love to exercise and be fit, too. I teach my customers and students about moderation and having treats once in a while, as well as limiting the size of your treat. These are lifelong skills that should be instilled early in children.
My favorite customers are, of course, the kids I teach. They are always excited to see their teacher in a setting outside of school—especially in one where ice cream or candy is involved. In many ways, it has brought me closer to them. I get to see them playing with friends in their front yards or at ball games with their parents. I learn about them and their lives in ways that I would never be able to in a 30-minute P.E. class. There’s a more personal connection. That’s been one gift of the ice cream truck.
I try to leverage that gift and talk to the students about more than just taking care of their bodies. I talk about how they should follow their dreams and how working hard in school can help them do that. The ice cream truck allows that lesson to resonate more than it otherwise might.
Now I get to hear the same sounds I did as a child when I heard that jingle from my front yard. But it’s nice that instead of yelling “the ice cream truck is coming,” I hear something a bit more meaningful to me, something that speaks to the deeper relationships I’ve been able to build with these kids: “Ms. Rosen is coming! Ms. Rosen is coming!”