Students return to school missing beloved music teacher

West Elementary School students returned to class after spring break for the first time since their music teacher died in a car accident.
March 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
In Santa Rosa on Monday, a beloved music teacher who was killed a car accident earlier this month was being fondly remembered.

Susan Hufford was missed by both her students and coworkers in the Mark West Union School District, on what was the first day of school after spring break.

In the accident, police believe the man who caused the accident may have been drinking and driving and distracted while driving.

"I just read that it was tragic," said one young student.

Students remember her Hufford as the dedicated music teacher. Her classroom was mournful and empty, Monday morning. Her notes were still on the desk. Her writing was still on the whiteboard. Principal Tracy Lavin-Kendall does not have plans to erase it anytime soon.

"I knew that [her writing on the whiteboard] was going to be there when we walked down and I said, 'This is hard,'" said Lavin-Kendall.

Hufford had the rare pleasure of teaching and knowing the name of every student in the district -- more than 1,000 of them. Imagine replacing someone like that.

"It's a horrible loss for our district because everyone wants to feel special. And children, when they notice that someone knows their name, and someone is able to remember who they are, it makes them feel that much more special about themselves," said Rachel Valenzuela from the Mark West Union School District.

Monday, the district brought in care dogs for students to love and cuddle. They seemed to help.

"We see it when they pet and pet and pet, hug and kiss them, and throw their arms around them, and then they laugh," said Trish Jamieson, a PAWS volunteer.

Kids expressed their sentiments though art projects.

Hufford was the music teacher who had already made such a strong impression. They would have remembered her anyway.


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