Beth Hart fought back tears Tuesday. As she prepared to take a leave of absence from Heywood Elementary School to have surgery as part of her fight against breast cancer, students and staff surprised her with an overwhelming show of support.
Everyone gathered in the school’s gym when Hart, an administrative assistant, was radioed to bring a marker to Principal Maurice Sadler.
She opened the door to see hundreds of people wearing T-shirts that read “Heywood’s Got Hart.” She was caught off guard, immediately shutting the door and joking she even considered walking out of the school.
“I didn’t think she was going to come back in the door,” Heather Goodwin, the president of the Parent Teacher Organization at the school, said.
Hart did return right as the students shouted in unison “We love you Mrs. Hart!” She received countless hugs as she saw her family, friends and students wearing the special shirts that let her know they’re all thinking of her.
“It makes me feel good, but at the same time it makes me feel kind of sad that people need to do that,” Hart said. “I prefer to be healthy and doing that for someone else.”
Hart has worked at the school for 9 years and was diagnosed in May at the end of last school year. In June Goodwin, the PTO president, began to help coordinate Tuesday’s surprise. Goodwin said it wasn’t easy, but remarkably everyone was able to keep the secret from Hart and caught her off guard as she walked in on the surprise.
Goodwin’s son attends high school at the Upper Valley Career Center and studies in the digital design and print program. She worked with that class to get them to create and print the T-shirts. Goodwin made sure she had a count on sizes at the beginning of the year so that the Career Center could make enough for everyone. Two of the students in the class designed the shirts that everyone wore at Heywood Elementary.
Wednesday is Hart’s last day of work before her leave of absence, and everyone in the school will wear pink as one more reminder of how much they care about her.
“It really helps a lot. I mean every card I get, every well-wish I get, I mean it makes a difference,” she said.
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