Dear Honey Bear Families,
In the spring of 2003, when Henrico County decided to offer full-day kindergarten, I was thrilled to accept my dream job teaching a new class at a school that hadn’t even been built yet. This June, I got to see students from my (and Greenwood’s) first kindergarten class walk down GES’s halls wearing their caps and gowns as high school graduates. After 13 years of learning and growing in the Henrico County Public School system, starting in room 108 of a brand new elementary school, my very first Honey Bear class was ready for the next big step in life, to begin a new chapter.
Every year, after much hard work, growing and learning together in room 108, each class of Honey Bears must move on to the next class and the next grade to continue to learn and grow. As each school year draws to a close, the “I love yous” are often followed by “I’ll miss you” and “I don’t want to leave kindergarten” and “I wish we didn’t have to leave.” Usually by late May and June when this is a frequent discussion topic, I am ready for the break, but never ready for the goodbyes. “Luckily,” I tell my reluctant Honey Bears, “we will see each other in the halls and at recess, and you can come back and sit in my rocking chair and read to my new group of Honey Bears.” I remind my sweet Honey Bears that they have learned all the ropes and have become the experts; it is now time for them to go and learn first grade stuff and for me to help the newest members of the Honey Bear family settle into being a Greenwood Gator. Most importantly, I remind my Honey Bears that they will always be my Honey Bears, no matter how big they get; and I will keep loving them, even when they are big grown ups like me. Once you’re in the Honey Bear family, you’re always in the Honey Bear family (even the adopted unofficial Honey Bears, who weren’t at GES for their kindergarten year).
Now, I will follow the same destiny each class of Honey Bears has had. Like the very first Honey Bear class, it is time for me to leave HCPS. Today I packed my backpack (and boxes, and bins, and bags) and left room 108, the Honey Bear classroom, for the last time, to allow the next teacher, Ms. Compton, to teach the next group of wide-eyed Gators. I am ready for my next big step in life, my next chapter, working at Second Presbyterian Child Care Center as the Executive Director, serving infants to pre-kindergarten children. We also have summer camp for kids though 8 years, so think about joining me for some weeks in the summer downtown!
The most difficult part of accepting this job is saying goodbye to the amazing community which makes up Greenwood Elementary School. I have thoroughly loved growing with the school and all of the many Honey Bears and their families over the years. I have always bragged that Greenwood is what every school population should be, so diverse, and so cohesive. As our nation becomes more and more divided, I have found in the chaos of the kindergarten classroom, a peaceful assurance that the world is all right when I am in the midst of the Honey Bear family. The Honey Bears welcome, love, and accept each other with all of their differences, and all of their imperfections. They know that giving our best each day is all we can ask of one another. They know that we will all make mistakes, but the mistakes don’t make us. The Honey Bears learn the “bad word” in Ms. Hudson’s book is “I can’t,” and eventually replace the taboo phrase with “I’ll try.” Though finding calm and quiet was often a near-impossible task with a roomful of energetic kindergartners, my Honey Bears gave me peace and the promise of hope with the way they lived and loved together each day and graced me with the privilege of being their leader.
As I’ve told my kids, I must remind myself, though I leave Greenwood, I am still a part of the Honey Bear family. Thank you to all of my Honey Bears
for helping me to learn and grow along with you; and thank you to all of the Honey Bear families, for you are the ones who have made these children such precious gifts in my life.
Please do keep in touch and bookmark our class blog’s new address: https://mshudsonshoneybears.wordpress.com/ I hope to update it with pictures and memories from over the years, and would love your help in doing so.
P.S. Mrs. Jae is a new secretary in the front office, and she said she already fell in love with the Honey Bears. She promised to give you hugs and love in my absence. Please make her and Greenwood’s other new secretary, Ms. Fandel, feel at home at Greenwood!