The sign outside Sanders Corner Elementary honored a beloved principal:
"With heavy hearts we give thanks and love to our principal, Mrs. Hwang. You will be dearly missed!"
But the smaller signs that dotted the ground below that school sign expressed emotions that the official sign couldn't. “You were the best principal I ever had,” read one of the notes, in a child’s writing.
“Every time I saw you in the hall you made my day so much better,” read another, which was written in the carefully rounded letters of a parent helping a small child.
The Loudoun County school still is grieving over the loss of its principal Wednesday. Kathleen Hwang was fatally struck by a car while crossing White Water Drive in Sterling on Wednesday.
Grief counselors were on hand at the school Monday morning to help students and faculty deal with the loss.
Teachers and staff said Hwang was devoted to building a positive, caring community at the school. “She knew everybody’s name in the whole school," said one teacher, who also has two children at the school. "Six hundred kids, and she’d greet them at the door – ‘today’s your birthday! She’d know.’”
“She always said that if the classroom wasn’t right for her own daughter or her own grandchildren, then it wasn’t quite right," said another staffer.
Getting the school back to normal is the first priority of the school district and the crisis teams at Sanders today. Still, it will be "very, very difficult," said Mimi Osborne, a parent. "I know kids who go in the morning expect her to be there. They get a hug from her."
A viewing is set for Tuesday night from 5 to 8 p.m. at Adams Green Funeral Home in Herndon.