Jennifer Backman spent a lot of time fighting back the tears and giving out a lot of hugs on Thursday, her last day of principal of Virginia Parks Elementary School after 13 years.
Backman resigned as principal to become Assistant Superintendent of Student Services of the Stanislaus Union School District.
“This is a very special place,” said Backman. “It’s definitely a bitter-sweet feeling. It’s like leaving family.”
She said it is difficult walking away from the many relationships she formed with staff, teachers, parents and students. A bon voyage party was thrown in her honor on Friday.
Backman was hired as principal by then Supt. Walt Hanline. She started out working for Ceres Unified School District with a job at Ceres High School and later became an assistant principal of Central Valley High School. She later worked for the district office.
Clutching onto flowers as school let out for the year, Backman was interrupted numerous times for hugs and photos with students. One dad, Carlos German, had his students pose with her, saying, “You cry, though, okay?”
“She’s awesome,” said German of Backman. “A great leader. My twin boys started kindergarten here. They’re going to Mae Hensley (junior high) now. She’s been here the entire time and she’s been nothing but awesome.”
The school’s vice principal, Holly Gaylor, will become principal.