Some presents come topped with ribbons, others with bows. But for special education teacher Jennifer Monroe, the best present she could hope for came with camouflage and a crew cut.
Monroe’s son, Adin Monroe, joined the Army at the beginning of October. He’s been in basic training, without much time to talk to family, and Monroe didn’t think she would get to see him this Christmas.
That is until Prairie View Principal Irene Gonzales asked her an interesting question at an assembly on Wednesday.
“Have you been naughty or nice this year?” she asked.
As the audience buzzed, Gonzales asked Adin to step out of the P.E. teacher’s office.
Monroe said a million emotions ran through her mind as her son came toward her: excitement, surprise, exhilaration. The two embraced, and Monroe broke into tears. In fact, there was hardly a dry eye among Monroe’s colleagues.
It was also much like a going-away present, as Monroe was wrapping up her last week of teaching at Prairie View.
After the happy reunion, the assembly moved on to other holiday matters: recognition of the students who had collected blankets, food, shampoo, lotion, books and clothing items for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
Gonzales, who cooked up the surprise for Monroe, said she wanted to recognize Adin at the Christmas assembly because he couldn’t make it to the school’s veteran assembly earlier in the year.
It was a hard secret to keep, she said, but it was worth it.
“I wanted to honor him and his giving to our country,” she said. “It felt like the right thing to do.”