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Virginia Beach art teacher receives special send-off on last day

When Mico Santos, an art teacher at Kempsville Meadows Elementary School, decided to switch careers, he never imagined this response from students and staff.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Art teacher Mico Santos got the surprise of his life after sharing his plan to change careers. 

“I just want them to have a better relationship with art," said Santos. 

For Santos, teaching is an art and each student is a blank canvas with endless possibilities.

“When I teach art, I get to experience each and every one of these students, individually," he said. 

For almost a decade, Santos has lived out his dream, teaching in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He even received the "Teacher of the Year" award at Tanners Creek Elementary School in Norfolk in 2019.

But newly married and seeking a better work-life balance, Santos decided to end his time as an educator. 

“It’s something that I am truly going to miss," said Santos. 

On April 20, his last day, students and staff at Kempsville Meadows Elementary School surprised Santos with a special send-off. 

“I come out and a crowd in waves of every single staff member and every single student has signs up like I’m the president or something,” he said.  “They are cheering me on, and I am just in awe." 

Students smothered him with hugs and handed him special gifts.

“They chose to draw some beautiful art for me," he said pointing to a piece that said, "please, please don’t leave.”

Video of the sendoff is going viral on social media.

Santos called the goodbye the most rewarding experience of his career, and he hopes every teacher is celebrated like a masterpiece.

“I feel like a celebrity, and I think all teachers should feel like a celebrity," Santos said.

Santos said he loved his job and his staff, but he’s switching to the corporate world for more pay.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools is one of many school districts in Hampton Roads boosting teacher salaries.