Letters to the Editor
In Support of David Hudson
“I leave you love. I leave you hope. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you a thirst for education. I leave you a respect for the uses of power. I leave you faith. I leave you racial dignity. I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man. I leave you, finally, a responsibility to our young people.”
The words above — The Last Will and Testament of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune — hang in the rotunda at A. Linwood Holton Elementary School. Although Dr. Bethune, the noted educator and early civil rights warrior, died more than 60 years ago, her words aptly describe the credo of Holton’s principal, David Hudson.
When I think about the many gifts Mr. Hudson has brought into the lives of our children and families, their teachers and our entire community, I am humbled and grateful. It seems that everywhere I go, children, parents and teachers stop me and thank me for being the School Board member who “found” Mr. Hudson and, miracle of miracles, managed to get him assigned to Holton.
In a sense, I did “find” him. When it became apparent in 2004 that Holton would be needing a new principal, I began visiting elementary schools in the city and adjoining counties. I was sick and tired of losing friends and neighbors who would leave the city once their children came of age to attend school. During my visits, I never told anyone that I was basically shopping for a new principal. I was simply observing.
No matter how many schools I visited, I kept coming back to Northside, to J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School, to its principal, Iris Page, to be exact. When I first came on School Board, Stuart was the only school in the Third District,that was accredited. When I finally worked up the courage to ask Mrs. Page if she thought her assistant principal, David Hudson, was ready to be a principal, she told me we needed to discuss the matter in her office. I felt like a little child in big trouble as she led me to her office and shut the door. (Anyone who knows Iris Page knows she doesn’t play). She sat down behind her desk, folded her hands and looked me in the eyes. I, of course, sat up a little straighter, folded my hands in my lap and waited for her to speak.
I was prepared to hear her tell me I had no business asking her about Mr. Hudson or any other RPS employee. She would have been right. School Board members are not charged with the day-to-day administration of a school or of employees. But she didn’t lecture me about my job. She told me that as a principal, she could not speak “out of school” about her employees with anyone, not even a School Board member. I nodded and apologized for overstepping. As I stood up and prepared to leave, she cleared her throat and in her toughest of tough-love voices, she told me that she had only one word for me. My hand on the doorknob, I paused and looked at her.
“Yes,” was all she said.
We both nodded.
The next morning, I sat in Dr. Harold Fitrer’s office on the 17th-floor of City Hall. He was in charge of Human Resources at the time. I asked how the search for the Holton principal was going. He said he was still going through applications. I told him that I realized I could not meddle in his business, but asked that he simply hear my words. Wisened from my visit with Mrs. Page the day before, I knew better than mention her name.
I simply explained that from all that I could see and learn about David Hudson, that I thought he would be the perfect principal for Holton Elementary School. I spent the next ten minutes talking about the school, the neighborhood and how sick and tired I was of losing good friends and neighbors to the counties once their children were ready to start school. I asked him to please keep me posted and to appreciate that Holton’s next principal needed to understand the neighborhood and community, as well as the school.
About a week later, I got a call from Dr. Fitrer and he told me they had found a principal for Holton. He could tell from his end that I was holding my breath on my end. “Breathe, Mrs. Wolf, breathe,” he said laughing. “The new principal is David Hudson.”
“Yes, yes, yes!” was all I could say. “Yes!”
Since that day, I have never once had to doubt the wisdom of bringing Mr. Hudson to be Holton’s principal. I have wished on many occasions that we could clone him because all elementary schools should have an instructional leader of his caliber. He is a consummate professional, one that is both professional and passionate, intelligent and intuitive and tough enough to assemble a team of teachers who place the needs of our children before all else.
But the real miracle of miracles was not getting him assigned to Holton. The real miracle has been watching the love grow between this quiet, soft-spoken man, the students, their families, the top-notch staff he assembled and how it has overflowed into our community.
Thanks to Mr. Hudson’s courage and open-door leadership, Holton is not simply a part of our Northside community, it is the heart of our community.
former Third District School Board representative
I write to share with you some brief thoughts about my experiences, and more importantly, my daughter’s experience at Linwood Holton Elementary School. First, the school is second to none. There are many things that make Holton Elementary a wonderful place for children to learn. However there is a common denominator–David Hudson. Mr. Hudson’s leadership is integral to the success of Holton. Not only has he made the school a place that values learning and diversity and family, but Mr. Hudson has also made Holton an integral part of the community. The school is active in North Side Richmond and North Side Richmond is active in Holton. I knew this anecdotally, but came to experience Mr. Hudson’s leadership as a parent. His leadership inspires his teachers to extract the best out of ever student at Holton. His leadership gives confidence to parents so that when we drop our daughter or son off they are safe and secure and learning in innovative ways. RPS is lucky to have Mr. Hudson.
Jeff and Anedra Bourne, Holton parents
(Jeff is the current Third District School Board representative)
It has been my pleasure to work with Mr. David Hudson, principal at Linwood Holton Elementary School since 2004. Mr. Hudson is a caring, dedicated educator who has always exhibited the highest level of professionalism and ethics in our dealings.
He is well-liked, and, more importantly, respected by teachers, staff, parents and students. He has worked diligently to make Linwood Holton a shining example of excellence in the Richmond Public School System. He tirelessly promotes the school and has been a strong partner in the community.
As a 2010 recipient of the REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership, Mr. Hudson showed his selflessness by donating the $15,000 monetary award to the school to further develop the learning garden program. Mr. Hudson has willingly opened the school on many days and times for civic association meetings and a wide variety of community activities. He proactively offered the school as a physical resource to residents after the recent storms which impacted the Northside, although the damage did not meet the criteria for a FEMA emergency center.
Mr. Hudson is the type of person that is key to the success of any team – excellent communicator, caring leader, compassionate team player. He is the person I would always want to include on my team. I endorse Mr. Hudson and wholeheartedly support him in his endeavors.
Chris A. Hilbert, Third District councilman
This is my personal experience with Mr. David Hudson, principal of Linwood Holton Elementary School.
Okay, here we go. I am a skeptic by nature. I am sort of the “Doubting Thomas” kind of skeptic. I need to see things myself sometimes to believe them. So when, I was on the Linwood Holton Elementary School playground with my four-year old little girl, Abbie Catherine Waters, in 2006, and another mother suggested that Linwood Holton Elementary School was one of the best elementary schools ever, in part, because of its principal, David Hudson, I internally said: “Yeah right, it’s probably an okay school, but ‘best school ever’, no way.” I have come to eat my words.
The mother on the playground that day relayed a second-hand story (lawyers like myself often refer to such stories as “hearsay”) to illustrate her point. I listened to her story as I watched my blonde-haired little one giggle and dance with joy as she played under the big tree that shaded the playground equipment. She said that one day a little girl at the school (kindergarten age) was scared of school and wanted to “go home”, lots of tears, etc., and Mr. Hudson asked her to walk with him, then have lunch with him. He took her to lunch and they sat together in his office, ate a sandwich and chatted. The little girl had lots of questions about school. She got answers. They called the little girl’s mom together and by the end of the lunch the little girl told her mom that she wanted to go back to class. Okay, that was the story, and it seemed like a sweet story, but I was cautious because this was my child’s education we were talking about, and I love my kids more than life itself. Time passed, and shortly I needed to decide on a school for Abbie.
I attended (with one of my dear friends– Anne Fox) the Linwood Holton Elementary Open House and heard the PTA president and the principal give a presentation. The PTA president said some pretty awesome things about the school. Mr. Hudson said a lot of good things, and something in particular that stuck with me. He said something similar to, “I want you all to know that if you will let me know of a problem, I will try to fix it. If you don’t tell me, then I can’t fix it, so please let me know if you have any concerns. You have my phone number, so call.” Seemed like a good school. I wasn’t sure whether he really wanted us to call him, but I kept his number anyway. Little did I know that I would be having any sort of problem that would need “fixing.” However, shortly thereafter I did have my first one-on-one encounter with Mr. Hudson.
My first one-on-one encounter with Mr. Hudson was when Abbie, at the beginning of one of the first days of school, ran joyfully unaccompanied down the hallway before the bell rang—she loved school. I ran after her and was stopped by one of Mr. Hudson’s office staff, since the bell had not rung yet. I had no time to explain and just kept running (thinking who are they to stop me from taking care of my baby). A couple of minutes later, Mr. Hudson arrived. As you know, he is a tall, really well-dressed guy, and he said something like, “Ms. Waters, after you get your daughter safely in the classroom, I would like to see you in my office.” “Eeesh” I thought. I was actually being called to the principal’s office—for real—and he knew my name. Holy crud, how do I get out of this. I was always an “A” student, never caused problems, and I was just trying to take care of my four-year old. What did I do wrong? Maybe I should just skip out of the school and go to work. Instead, I told myself that I was going to tell this principal a thing or two. Well, I should not have rushed to judgment so fast. Come to find out the rule about entering before the bell was part of an important system set up to keep the kid’s safe and Mr. Hudson explained that his main priority was to keep the kids safe. He actually appeared incredibly serious about the safety issue. Before I could even begin to start yelling at him he said, “I totally understand why you did what you did—and I am not saying that it was wrong, just wanted you to know the reason for the rule. “ Then he thanked me and explained that he also needed to support his staff when they are enforcing these safety rules. Okay then, I survived my trip to the principal’s office. I started to make sure our whole family followed the bell rule and I gained some respect for a man whose first priority was to keep my child safe.
The next two years my daughter Abbie thrived at Holton. She followed the school pledge to a “T”, respect for others. She had friends of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, personalities and cultures. Holton became Abbie’s life, her anchor. She had a way about her that made many folks want to hang out with her –sometimes being referred to as “Happy Abbie.” Throughout those two years, I would regularly hear from Mr. Hudson at various events, something like: “I can’t fix your problems, if you don’t let me know they exist….so please let me know.”
Now let’s fast forward to the first week of second grade for Abbie in 2009. After being a perfectly healthy child, Abbie was diagnosed with cancer: Stage IV Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma. I found myself, with Abbie (on the brink of tears) and her fabulous teacher LaTonya Oliver outside of Mr. Hudson’s office on the green couch with a problem—a big one. I had heard tales of cancer kids being secretly shunned by some school systems across the country once they were diagnosed since their diagnosis and treatment causes a lot of fear and a great deal of disruption for the rest of the students. My problem was that Linwood Holton Elementary School was Abbie’s world. I was terrified of the cancer and so was Abbie. So along with LaTonya Oliver we sat there waiting to see what would unfold. Mr. Hudson invited us into his office and he first calmed our cancer fears – telling us that he had personal knowledge of others who had just gone through the same type of thing and that they were doing okay now. He encouraged Abbie to see Holton as a safe haven, i.e., HER school, even if she could only attend for a few minutes a week because of chemo treatments. She did just that, even leaving chemo just in time to make it into the second grade class photo (they had just taken the photo when Abbie arrived and I believe Ms. Oliver suggested that it be retaken as soon as Abbie walked in the door). Mr. Hudson stood with Abbie throughout the treatment, checking on her regularly.
While Abbie was undergoing cancer treatments we started to receive truancy notices. You know the ones that tell you how much trouble you are in because your child is not attending school regularly. These notices bugged me and in between Abbie’s doctor and chemo appointments I tried pretty hard to get them to stop by calling the phone number written on the notices. I explained to the folks that answered the phone that my child had cancer and that we had a home school instructor. I explained that we tried to get her to the school as often as possible. The notices did not stop. I wanted nothing more than to have Abbie in school every day and these notices –just bugged me. One email to Mr. Hudson and they stopped.
In early spring of 2011, Abbie, someone who loved doing her schoolwork, just gave up on doing any school work, saying it just was not the same. One mention of this to Mr. Hudson and the teachers rallied to bring school to Abbie. Students at Holton made flash cards of the multiplication tables, one child came to the house so that the house would seem more like a classroom, teachers visited Abbie and helped her learn cursive…one of the things she wanted to know how to do.
That same spring, in order to raise money to help us take care of Abbie while she was sick, the school came up with a pie throwing event to celebrate pi [π] Day. For a small fee the kids were allowed to throw a pie in the teachers’ and Mr. Hudson’s face. All of the money went to help with our bills. Abbie was in the hospital the day the pies were thrown. With the help of a wonderful teacher at the school, Abbie was actually able to watch Mr. Hudson get hit in the face with a pie on Skype.
After the pie event, we made an appointment with Mr. Hudson to pick up the fundraising money in the office. I contacted Mr. Hudson to arrange a time and let him know that Abbie would be turning nine the following week. Abbie and I walked over to the school hand in hand and, after thanking Mr. Hudson, were escorted by him to the cafeteria where many of Abbie’s classmates sang “Happy Birthday” to her, stood in line to give her cards, and many gave her hugs. The ear-to-ear smile on Abbie’s face was priceless. This was the last time that Abbie saw many of these children, as she died the following week. The ups and downs of her treatment took its toll, and yes, what others had said is true, Mr. Hudson joined many of her classmates, teachers and our friends and family to be at her bedside the very day she went to heaven. Not easy for anyone.
After Abbie died, Mr. Hudson, not only allowed us to have Abbie’s memorial service at Holton, but he actively participated in it. He also wrote a personal poem in her memory. That day a rainbow appeared over the school and the folks from the Bliley funeral home said that they had never seen anything like this celebration of life. While a whole group of our heroes set up the event, Mr. Hudson gave it his total support.
Then, two years later when the kids in Abbie’s class had their “moving on” ceremony in 5th grade, Mr. Hudson was kind enough to include Abbie with her class in the yearbook. I was at the “moving on” ceremony to see Abbie’s friends move on to middle school, when I was called on stage by Mr. Hudson to see my daughter’s picture with her class in the yearbook. This meant the world to our friends and family and to me, Abbie’s mom.
Now let’s do another fast forward to the Spring of 2014, when our newly adopted daughter Melissza (adopted from Hungary at age six, knowing only a handful of English words) started at Holton two weeks after landing in the United States, and joined the kindergarten class in Mr. Garber’s room. She was scared, disruptive and a very high maintenance child at first. It literally took five of us (myself, Ms. Oliver, Ms. Goldberg and two wonderful 4th Grade students: Brynne Severns and Claire Sulanke) to get her out of the van and into school one day. When she first arrived she would get scared and angry, pull hair and hit. One day she got in trouble for her actions and was taken to Mr. Hudson’s office. Funny thing is, by enforcing the rules, treating her like any other student who had done such a thing (i.e., by talking to her as only a principal can do) he helped turn her around. She did not know English, but she knew she was in trouble. She was not suspended or anything like that, but his chat with her went a long way to make her feel like she belonged at the school and her behavior changed.
About that same time, Melissza saw that a baby tree had fallen down in front of the school and asked, in her own way, if she could go tell Mr. Hudson about it—dragging me by the hand to the principal’s office (did I mention that I was an A student who tried to avoid the principal at all cost). Evidently, Melissza and Mr. Hudson had built some type of mutual respect for each other during their chat and she somehow thought he could fix the tree. I sat with her silently as she tried to explain her concern to him. She used a lot of hand gestures and pointed at the fallen baby tree. Mr. Hudson looked out the window with sincere concern. I then offered up some of my interpretation of what I thought she was saying. Then Mr. Hudson thanked Melissza, and said he would try to work on it. The next day, the tree was fixed. Melissza saw it and smiled really big, and said two words with a strong Hungarian accent: “Mister Hudson.”
In 2015, Melissza still had some problems getting ready for school in the mornings, but there was no need for five people to help her out of the van. I mentioned this problem to Mr. Hudson during drop-off one morning. That very day he had a talk with Melissza, and things are much better now. He kept reminding me, in front of Melissza, to let him know if my child had any problems and asked if I still had his phone number. I did.
During the Spring/Summer of 2016, at the end of the school year, Melissza wanted to be on the Ginter Park swim team and promised to go to the practices. We signed her up and after the first practice, she didn’t want to do it anymore. I mentioned it to Mr. Hudson as an aside and he said, “I’ll go some morning to watch her and maybe that will help.” I said that the practices were at seven a.m. and most of them were after the school year had finished. He said: “That’s okay, just send me the schedule.” Well guess what, he actually showed up for not just one, but two summer swim practices at 7:00 a.m. (he is not paid for this…he did this because he cares).
Take a gander at the look on Melissza’s face…and yes Melissza swam well that day (and so did a few other Holton kids that were at the practice). Was it a complete turnaround? No. Melissza still didn’t care for practices, but she did attend them and swam well enough to be invited to attend Champs–the end of the year competition for swimmers who had done well at the swim meets.
This year, Melissza had a panic attack in school based on things that occurred before she was adopted and she was scared that she could be hurt. Mr. Hudson, once again was there. He took her to the office and from what I understand, he explained to her how the school is set up to keep her safe.
Bottom line, I was a skeptic, but I have seen, firsthand, and not just through word of mouth, the impact this incredible human being has had on our family. I am no longer a skeptic. Our family has been very blessed. Mr. Hudson is certainly not the only hero in our lives, we have many, but he is definitely one of them. In this season of Thanksgiving, we are so thankful for the families of Northside and that Mr. Hudson is the principal of Linwood Holton Elementary School.
Mary Ann Waters, Holton parent
David Hudson is a LIFE CHANGER. Having been in Northside for 23 years, I can tell you that he has transformed not only Linwood Holton, but the entire Northside community. Words can’t adequately express just how important he is, and how huge his impact has been and continues to be. He’s a hero to all of us, and our lives are infinitely better because of him. I’m so thankful that he has been such a big part of our lives, and I don’t think I could ever repay him for what he’s given to my family. Hands down the most amazing and influential person in my life.
Charles Arthur, Holton parent
Since the moment I interviewed at Linwood Holton, I knew I was going to love working for Mr. Hudson. From his organization of weekly agendas to his weekly grade level meetings where teachers can share concerns, these were things I had never experienced at other schools. Mr. Hudson exhibits the definition of professionalism. He is kind, caring, and most of all fair. He listens to the children and he KNOWS them. I have never been in a school where a principal knows every single child by name and how he or she is doing both academically and socially, it’s incredible. He does the same thing with his staff, he listens to us and he knows us as professionals. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for everything Mr. Hudson does for the students and staff at Linwood Holton. I hope that I never have to work under the guidance of any other principal.
Kylee York, Holton teacher
I was a student at Linwood Holton Elementary School for seven years. Throughout those seven years Mr. Hudson always had my back. No matter what was happening outside or in school he was always there for me whenever I needed him.
There was never a time when Mr. Hudson was unfair. Whenever I got into trouble for doing anything I wasn’t supposed to, he would ask me some questions. First he asked, “What did you do wrong?” Followed by, “Do you know why it’s wrong?” And then, “What do you think we should do to prevent you from doing this again?”
I learned that if you can’t work together with whoever is in charge when things go wrong, you’ll never be able to work with them to make sure things go right. Mr. Hudson was empathetic and a natural leader. Whenever there were bigger problems, Mr. Hudson would host a school meeting in the cafeteria for us to all work it out together. That was a good way to unite everyone as a school. It taught me patience and helped me keep my mouth shut at times.
Those seven years helped me grow and prepared me for my future and Mr. Hudson played a big part in that preparation. I am thankful that he was never soft on me but always fair.
Jefferson Miles, 9th grade, Community High School, former Holton student
I am a resident of Bellevue, a parent and a teacher at Holton. I am grateful for all Mr. Hudson has done for my family, my neighbors, my colleagues, and my students. I have known Mr. Hudson for 13 years. He has always impressed me as a man who has a great vision for Holton Elementary School. I remember Holton before he arrived as the principal. At that time the school faced many challenges blocking it from its potential. It was Mr. Hudson who knocked down those barriers and provided the kind of leadership to the teachers, parents, community members, and students that united us and made us stronger. By bringing people together to appreciate differing perspectives, talents and needs, we could all have a place to contribute our strengths and become an amazing community for learning.
Mr. Hudson has given so much to make great things happen at Holton. I believe his secret to success is how he opens his door to everyone and listens to ideas and concerns. He takes action to right wrongs, solve problems, and find resources to make good things happen. He supports growth in everyone! Teachers become masters of their craft, students achieve academically and socially, parents are empowered to make a difference. The focus is always guided by what is best for the children. He stands up strong for the belief that quality education provides students opportunities to define themselves as good citizens with bright futures.
Mr. Hudson holds high expectations. You know that feeling you get when you discover someone who believes in you? Mr. Hudson has given that empowerment to hundreds! We work harder because he works so hard. We step up to volunteer, collaborate, inform, and provide a universal design for learning. We go above and beyond in our commitment to the students, and contribute to our school community because he inspires us to do so. Students learn kindness and respect along with an academic growth mind-set that is the foundation to the rest of their educational careers.
I have witnessed this first hand for my own children, my neighbors, and my students. He encouraged me to get my Master’s degree in Special Education. He showed my oldest daughter how to be brave in the face of her dyslexia. He praised her for standing up for others with her kindness and influence on her peers. He saw a leader in my son and recognized his achievements in a way that motivated him to excel. He asked my youngest to self-advocate, teaching her valuable life lessons about being true to herself and the opportunities that follow when you do so. Mr. Hudson’s belief in all that is possible when we strive towards greatness has carried us all when we felt doubt. He acts with integrity and professionalism. From his daily commitment of checking in on each class, welcoming visitors, and staying late for community meetings, to his going above and beyond to assure that every child is cared for in a way that shapes futures, Mr. Hudson has been there. Thank you Mr. Hudson for all you do for the Holton Elementary School community!
Amy Harr, Holton teacher and parent
I thought Mr. Hudson was scary. He knows how to give you a very, very scary look so you will behave. Even though he could be scary to make kids behave, he was very nice when we followed directions and when we went to see him for good reasons.
My favorite memories are whenever he asked me for a favor because he trusted me and I respected him. I liked to help him get papers for announcements because I knew that he couldn’t trust just anyone with even a simple task like that.
Now that I am a sixth grader I appreciate that he looked scary because it makes kids think about doing the right thing. I now know why he tries to seem scary is that he was helping us in learning manners, and respecting other people which will help us in the future to get jobs.
Mr. Hudson isn’t actually scary. He’s nice and good at his job. He is very intelligent and has a great fashion sense. I am glad that he was my principal for seven years. If I had any other principal who would just call my parents, or suspend me for little things – then I wouldn’t have learned all the little habits that are helpful to me now in middle school.
Lorelei Miles, 6th grade, Binford Middle School, former Holton student
Mr. Hudson is head and shoulders above his contemporaries. Holton stands out from all the other schools. Staff and students are polite and greet you with a smile. Holton passes the SOL’S. Mr. Hudson walks the children to their cars as they leave school at night. The parents love this man. One can hear one hundred different stories on how Mr. Hudson has affected their student and their family. My grandson attended Holton and continues to achieve success. We need more principals like Mr. Hudson and more schools like Holton. Let’s get a Mr. Hudson or Holton PLAN to improve Richmond Public Schools.
- Rakestraw, Bellevue resident
I have known Mr. David Hudson for 5 years as the Principal at my son’s school. From the first time we met at orientation, he has proven himself to be completely dedicated to not only an amazing education but, more importantly to the quality of care our children receive at his school. He is always available to deal with all concerns almost immediately when you reach out to him. He arrives early and stays late. He makes everyone feel heard and valued from administrative staff to teachers to parents and to students. David Hudson is tireless in his commitment to all the things that matter to keeping our children safe and learning. He creates an environment that feels open to all who come there. It always strikes me how important he makes everyone feel who comes to him with a problem and how much he lifts up the children’s sense of self. We are so blessed to have someone like David Hudson in our community.
Sonni Gittelman, Holton parent
Think it’s time for some parents of students who’ve attended the incredible RPS elementary school, Linwood Holton, to chime in with first-hand knowledge about the man that is David Hudson.
Our boy-girl twins attended Linwood Holton Elementary in Richmond’s Northside from kindergarten through 5th grade. From the day we were invited to “shadow” while in preschool, to the day we wept openly upon “moving on,” Principal Hudson was clearly at the helm of a loving, supportive, nurturing elementary school community.
When in their early grade-school years, my husband (our twins’ Daddy) had a recurrence of cancer, both of their classes—under Principal Hudson’s leadership—rallied with posters and cards and well-wishes lifting our children’s spirits and confidence—and ours.
When a tree demolished our home during Hurricane Irene (we’re still often a highlight on local pre-storm news footage), Principal Hudson called THE NEXT DAY (a Sunday) gave us his personal cell number to make use of for any and every possible “need” —from taking our kids on an outing to bringing his chain saw and helping hands-on.
When my husband’s cancer recurred AGAIN in later elementary years, and treks to and from UVA were necessary for treatment, Mr. Hudson made sure we knew if we needed to hit the road to Charlottesville early to make an appointment, or needed to stay late, our kids were welcome to “hang” in his office.
When in middle school, and for a community service, I suggested to my son we take doughnuts to the local firehouse and police station for “Hot Doughnuts for Heroes Day,” my son made it clear…the hero he wanted to honor was Principal Hudson.
The students and teachers alike (and parents, too) rise to the lofty expectations he sets. Our twins entered two different RPS specialty high schools this fall. While I would like to take some “credit” for the incredible students and young people they’ve become, we’d be remiss and naive to assume that a large part of our children’s success wasn’t directly attributable to Principal David Hudson.
Principal Hudson is a man of integrity, honor, compassion, and commitment to education.
We Northside families owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude.
Cheryl Lage, Holton parent
We love you Mr. Hudson. You are an amazing man. I remember being in the pickup lane and you know every parent or grandparent’s name and who they came to pick up. Plus all the naughty kids are scared of you. Better said, you are highly revered.
Scotta Barsella, Northside resident
Mr. Hudson is an amazing man! He always has his door open…literally! He hands out his cell phone number so parents can call him with questions and concerns. He’s tough, respected. He has dedicated his life to this school and to RPS in general. He we…See More
Susan Childress, Holton parent
Becoming divorced is a terrible feeling. Becoming divorced with children was even more upsetting for me. In the first months I questioned every choice for fear of what would happen to our children. Would they be scarred? Would they develop resentments against us? Would they be able to build healthy relationships? Would their education suffer?
In our case, we separated in the summer. The children had a small window of adjustment time before returning to school. Since they were both still in elementary school, however, I felt a need to speak to their teachers. I met with the teachers and found myself embarrassingly weepy. After leaving the last classroom, I ran into their principal, David Hudson.
Mr. Hudson had been part of our lives for five years at that point. My son had been so impressed by him in pre-kindergarten that he started dressing like him. His school pictures for multiple years featured a dress jacket and one year he even sported the Hudson Classic bowtie. Mr. Hudson managed a fine balance between authority figure and model to be emulated. We considered him the perfect person to be in charge of our children’s school.
On that tearful day Mr. Hudson deftly inquired after my well-being without being nosy. We had become particularly close three years before when I tripped and broke my hand in front of the school. Mr Hudson sat on the ground with me, his perfect suit in the dust, so he could hold my good hand while we waited for help to arrive. That day he kept me from vomiting from shock by chatting gently. On this day, he soothed my fears and dried my tears.
Mr. Hudson reminded me that his staff had significant experience in working with children undergoing times of upheaval. He shared his confidence that my husband and I would handle the coming months in ways that would not hurt the children. He pointed out that what children need most is unselfish and reliable love. He said he had nothing but confidence that we would raise our children well as divorced co-parents, because we were “Good people”.
This is one of Mr. Hudson’s kind, understated compliments he gives to many, but it is always from his heart. I have never taken it for granted. I’ve heard him say it to others, and we all respond with the same grateful smile. He doesn’t have to be so kind to us parents, but he takes the time to get to know us and reach out. Parenting isn’t easy. The thoughtful words of David Hudson have always made a difference in my parenting life.
But they are more than just words. Within a week of my meeting with the teachers and Mr. Hudson, my son came home from school saying he had been called into the principal’s office. He said he’d felt some trepidation at first but when he arrived, Mr. Hudson sat him down and gently asked how he was doing. I don’t know the full extent of that conversation, but it made a lasting impression on my son.
At the end of their talk, Mr. Hudson gave my son his card with his cell phone number on it. He said that whenever my son had trouble or needed help, he could call any time. My son showed it to me proudly, a bit in awe that Mr. Hudson would reach out to him. I kept it to myself that Mr. Hudson made sure I had a card for the same reasons.
My son kept that card on his bedside table until he graduated from elementary school. I believe it was the single kindest gesture anyone could have given that little boy at that time. To my son it was a sign of compassion, of respect, and of a genuine care for our family. He never used it, but it was a comfort knowing someone had his back if needed. I, however, used mine.
As the years passed, Mr. Hudson cared for my daughter after my son graduated. I work with hospice and my ex-husband is a trial lawyer which meant that sometimes we were late for pickup due to emergency work circumstances. Mr. Hudson would always be sitting, chatting with my daughter when I arrived. I would apologize profusely and he would say that it was his pleasure to be with her. He would thank me for the work I do. He would check on me to make sure I wasn’t too burnt out. And while we would talk, he would acknowledge parents, teachers, and staff with kind words, little jokes and a wave.
This September we had our first First Day of school without David Hudson. I’ll admit it. I shed a little tear. For a decade I felt confident that my children had excellent teachers, a clean school, safety and well-being. Their elementary school was a safe and happy place for us all. The children had many teachers and staff they adored. My daughter made friends with the nurse one particularly germy year. My son earned a flattering nickname from the janitor that he still has to this day. They both had multiple favorite teachers. But the greatest influence of all came from the principal himself, David Hudson.
Needless to say, my children were not scarred by the divorce. They do well in school and have close friendships. They are loving and delightful people. All the hopeful things David Hudson foresaw coming to pass did. I can never thank him enough for all he has done for our family. But, oh do I try.
Alane Cameron Miles, Holton parent
Mr. Hudson is Linwood Holton Elementary School. From the very first day we met him through the past eight years he has supported and encouraged us. He runs a tight ship, expects a lot, but gives even more. He has supported the students and created unique opportunities for them, gives everyone his personal cell phone to call any time, answers emails at ungodly hours, and opens the building for community events. But the greatest support from him came in the form of the Dandelion Gardens.
As parents of kindergartners, we proposed the concept of the gardens and he threw his full weight behind them, helping us achieve more than we could imagine, and faster than we could believe. We had known him less than a year, yet he still embraced our efforts and continues to do so today. He spoke at City Council and in front of the School Board. He donated our first asset, the picnic benches, just so we could have something tangible to see and believe in to make it happen.
The gardens grew and Mr. Hudson was rightfully recognized as R.E.B. Principal of the year. We named the Golden Hammer award winning classroom structure after him, ‘The Hudson House’. Our journey did not stop there as the gardens gained greater recognition that led us to the White House Kitchen Gardens. In October 2013 he escorted five 5th Grade students, Ellen Shepard and myself to Washington, DC to harvest those gardens with Michelle Obama. It was one of our most memorable events ever that we still cannot believe happened.
Just this October, Hands On came out to help clean up the gardens for Hands On Day. Mr. Hudson arrived early to open the building and proceeded to grab a pitchfork and helped spread mulch around the trees on a beautiful Saturday. To me, that is his essence. Mr. Hudson not only speaks out on his support, but he rolls up his sleeves and digs in the dirt with us.
You are a wonderful man and we professionally love you.
All the Raffenots, Holton parents and children
Mr. Hudson is wonderful. He provides his students and staff with structure, authority and respect. He was there for our family when my husband was in a terrible accident two years ago. Mr. Hudson is a pillar of our community and an indispensable asset for Richmond Public Schools.
Karina Martinez, Holton parent
It is an honor to be working again at Holton under the leadership of Principal David Hudson. Our family is currently in our 11th consecutive year at Holton, with Ally and Cate being alumni and Gigi in kindergarten. I remember what Holton was like before Mr. Hudson and I know how truly fortunate we are to have David Hudson as our truly passionate, always professional leader and role model. We feel so fortunate to be able to say that we know this amazing human being and it is with honor that we can call this man our friend.
Kim Lavach, Holton parent
I don’t even know the man, but he came to the Ginter Park pool because one of his students (a six-year old) was fearful of going in the pool and he wanted to build up her confidence. Did I mention this was in July and August and NOT during the school year. I was beyond impressed.
Andrea Liverman, Northside resident
We’ve been at Holton with Mr. Hudson since 2006 and think the world of him! All three of our girls have gone to Holton (one is still there) and have loved it. Our middle is now at Lucille Brown and our oldest is at Maggie Walker. Mr. Hudson is the kind of principal who is completely dedicated to the families at Holton Elementary and knows each child by name. We know that we can bring any concerns at all to him and he’ll work on fixing them that day. He also shows up on the weekends when we need him to open up the building so we can do things like prepare for the school play. Nothing is off the table. We feel so lucky to have Mr. Hudson at the helm of Holton.
Kristin Cummings, Holton parent
Cannot say enough about this incredible man. We feel so lucky to have him as our principal. So caring and so approachable. Who gives their cell phone number out to everyone on the first day of school? This man! Hands down best principal in town!
Alanna Fuessel Mills, Holton parent
My son had a very rough second grade year. His father had been traveling for work during the week and he missed him very much. Jackson was struggling with what we later learned was dyslexia. Jackson was very sad and very stressed. He no longer wanted to attend school and he would cry a lot.
One morning I took my son straight to Mr. Hudson. I didn’t know what to do and I needed help. Mr. Hudson stepped up immediately. Beginning that day, and for weeks after, he would stop by Jackson’s class to check on him. When Jackson was having a tough time he was invited to go straight to Mr. Hudson’s office and allowed to use Mr. Hudson’s phone to call me. Mr. Hudson would also allow Jackson and a friend to eat lunch with him. Jackson’s second grade year was tough. But, because of Mr. Hudson, my son was able to find comfort at school. Holton was a second home to us. We will forever be grateful to know David Hudson.
Brooke Fauver Drumheller, Holton parent
Mr. Hudson is the type of principal that you can leave a message on his personal cell phone, have him call you back, and then cry to him because you’re worried about your child!! He is an amazing principal who goes out of his way to make everyone feel heard.
Erin Prather Gray, Holton parent
We have the most amazing principal and are so lucky that he helped with special services for Madeline when she was diagnosed with dyslexia, and Ryder when he was diagnosed with a processing disorder. He is truly the most caring man/administrator and goes out of his way for every single student.
Vicki Bray, Holton parent
Mr. Hudson was my principal for the duration of my six years as a teacher. He challenged me, inspired me, and ultimately made me a better teacher and person under his tutelage. I am forever grateful to have been fortunate enough to work with him.
Mary-Curtis Powell, former teacher, Holton
We are writing this letter in support of David Hudson, principal of Linwood Holton Elementary School.
As a member of our community for well over ten years, he has been an integral part of the students’ lives as well as that of the neighborhood and business community. He is a strong and ardent supporter of the neighborhood and the merchants, raising awareness among the student body and their parents about all of our local businesses.
Mr. Hudson has been principal at Holton for more than a decade now. He took over at time when the school was failing on so many levels. Under Mr. Hudson’s leadership, the school was completely turned around within six months. He is a tireless worker, and the school and students have prospered and grown under his strong leadership.
He has insured that the school and students have been a very large part of our two big events in the neighborhood – National Night Out and Christmas on MacArthur. The students, teachers and parents participate in the Christmas on MacArthur parade every year.
The business community has worked with Mr. Hudson to sponsor events with the Richmond Police Department to promote safety and to allow the students to get a chance to meet the officers that serve and protect them. We have worked together to have a Safety Day at Holton and are working on having more of these events in the future.
The Bellevue Merchants Association could not ask for a better partner or advocate for the community as a whole.
Bellevue Merchants Association
EDITOR’S NOTE: Letters in support of Mr. Hudson continue to flood our email-box. If you haven’t written one, feel free to do so. We will continue publishing them throughout 2017.
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