Principal Enjoys 70th Birthday Surpise
By Caitlin Davis
Sep 14, 2012, 11:16
contributed photo Jones went to visit some classrooms after her victory lap to thank them for happy birthday songs. One student in Moore’s class shares a birthday with Jones.
Students at Patrick Copeland Elementary School lined the hallways on Tuesday afternoon, just before school ended, with a surprise. As Principal Susan Jones opened the doors to the hallways, the students began to sing “Happy Birthday.”
Jones, who celebrated her 70th birthday on Tuesday, walked up and down the halls of Patrick Copeland as students sang, clapped and made sure to wish her a happy birthday.
After her victory lap through the school, Jones got on the intercom to make sure students knew just how much she liked her surprise.
“I love each and every one of you,” Jones said. “I know it is going to be a great year for all of us.”
Jones said that while being 70 does not feel much different than being 69, this birthday was a special one because of the recognition.
“It felt really good,” Jones said.
Sue Brown, reading teacher at Patrick Copeland, was one of the organizers for Jones’ surprise. She said she wanted to make sure the entire school was involved because the celebration was well deserved.
“She has been teaching in Hopewell for years,” Brown said of Jones. “She has always been there to support our staff and our students.
Jones has been with Hopewell City Public Schools for 47 years, beginning her local teaching career at Woodlawn School in 1965. She was Principal of Dupont from 1987 to 1997 and has been principal of Patrick Copeland since 1997. Jones has also worked in the school board office.
Brown recalls starting her career before Jones’s 50th birthday. She said Jones not only provides support to co-workers and students at Patrick Copeland, but to the entire school system.
“She’s taught some kids parents, grandparents,” Brown said. “She has been so involved in Hopewell City Public Schools for many years. Kids come back and visit her.”
Jones walked down the hall again to Patty Moore’s second grade classroom to visit some of the students and to wish Caleb Rhodes, 7, a happy birthday as well.
Moore was another organizer for the surprise birthday celebration. She, like Brown, was filled with praise for Jones.
“She deserves all the credit she can get,” Moore said.
Dr. Kim Evans, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, was on hand to see Jones take her victory lap around the school. She was all smiles as she watched the principal get many birthday wishes from students.
“That was just amazing,” Evans said. “Her entire life is dedicated to children and their education; to see how much they love her and want to wish her a happy birthday.”
The celebration for Jones continued after school, as the staff of Patrick Copeland gathered in the library for their own celebration for Jones.
The staff presented her with a signed plaque and a bracelet with charms commemorating her time at the school.
contributed photo Jones opens gifts from her staff during her surprise birthday celebration on Tuesday.
Jones held back tears as she thanked the staff.
“This is a big shock,” Jones said. “Thank you. You honor me by all the hard work you put in for all our kids.”
Jones’s daughters, Becky Redling, a teacher at Harry E. James Elementary in Hopewell, and Paula Jones, who taught for 14 years in Hopewell and is now at St. Christopher’s in Richmond, were on hand to join in the birthday celebration. Both daughters said it brought out a side of their mother they had never seen before.
“It is very rare to see her cry,” Paula said. “That’s not her.”
“Besides us, her teachers are her second family,” Redling said.
As Jones enjoyed a piece of birthday cake, she said it was a great way to end her day.
“I’m speechless, I’m at a loss for words,” Jones said. “I really am...it makes me glad I am doing what I am doing.”