RMAE Principal Ann Hudson

Margaret Elizabeth Sangster American poet, author and editor, claimed, “No one should teach who is not in love with teaching.” Sangster was born in 1838 and her zeal to teach seemingly resides in the soul of academic Ann Hudson, who is currently in her 28th year as an educator.

“I love what I do. I feel honored to work within our school and alongside our students’ parents.”

“I adored my kindergarten teacher because she allowed me to bring my dog’s puppies to show and tell. She made every student feel special. I will always remember how very kind and caring she was,” Ann shares of an early mentor who shaped her life. Math also shaped Ann’s vision of becoming a teacher. “Math came very easy to me. It made logical sense, and I was fascinated by it. More people than not seem to hate math, which is why I became a math teacher. I envisioned students having fun while learning math.”

Ann received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida, then embarked on her teaching career starting with teaching math to middle school students. “I experienced how the school leader influenced the school environment and the job I was able to do. This led me to realize I could have an impact beyond the classroom. I earned my doctorate degree in educational leadership and became a principal,” she says. Just as her kindergarten teacher inspired Ann to become a teacher, Wyley Dixon inspired Ann to become a principal. “Wyley was the first principal I worked for as a teacher. It was more than apparent he cared about the staff and students. Wyley created a culture we all wanted to be a part of. He loved his staff and created activities and social events that inspired all of us to participate. This led to us being more cohesive as a teaching staff,” she explains.

Ann in her first year of teaching, 1991.

Ann met her soulmate who chartered the same course as she when it came to teaching with passion and purpose, but love would not have been kindled if not for the help of two students. She recounts, “I met Mark when I was in Florida and taught math at the same middle school. We wouldn’t have connected romantically if not for the urging of two students who decided we needed to date. They went as far as writing love notes for each of us. We invited those two instigators to our wedding in 1996. Our son, Carter, was born in 2000, and it was then I transitioned into a stay-at-home mom until 2006. Carter and I were always out on one adventure after another during that period of time.”

April 20, 1999, forever changed school environments and cultures when our country’s deadliest school shooting took place at Columbine High School in Littleton. “I was teaching in Florida when Columbine happened,” Ann reveals. “Because of Columbine, I realized we have to recognize the kids who feel ‘off’ or are having trouble. Serving and leading then became my ultimate goal because I wanted to create a loving school environment. Nurturing and loving home environments are also vitally important. Schools experience a diverse population of students. Many times, I’ve heard students say, ‘No one’s had my back before,’ or ‘You don’t let me get away with anything, but I know it’s because you love me.’ Teachers who love their students build a rapport with them and earn their trust. Kids have to know what to expect from teachers and school administrators each and every day. It’s vitally important beyond the rituals and routines within the classroom. Interaction is key. My goal is to keep students challenged and do so individually. The key is having teachers genuinely love what they’re doing because students feel their positive energy. I’ve learned to accept the hard days when I can’t fix everything. It’s important to live in the present, absorb the negative, and not transfer it onto our kids.”

The Hudson family moved to Colorado in 2001 when Mark accepted the post as Department Chair and Professor of Music at Colorado State University Pueblo. Ann’s dream job availed itself when she saw a post for principal at Rocky Mountain Academy (RMAE). “I have experienced how many schools give lip service about creating a community, but RMAE has a unique environment that I never experienced at any other school. There’s autonomy when it comes to decision-making, and we are united to ensure our decisions are what is best for our students and our school community,” she states.

Ann attired by students.

When asked what is essential in working with kids of all ages, Ann claims, “It’s listening as well as giving kids space and time to make sure they feel safe at their schools. We don’t know what students are experiencing, but we do know it’s vitally important to make a connection. One of the programs we’ve started at RMAE is Bear Buddies. Our older students are Bear Buddies for our younger students which allows them to spend time together during recess as well as in the classroom. This creates a bond of love and trust and teaches students how to care for one another. It’s also vitally important for teachers to have fun with students. Part of that is being comfortable in making a fool out of yourself. We had a penny war fundraiser, which is when students bring spare change to school and deposit it into containers. At the end of the collection period, the change is donated toward a cause or for a purchase for the school. I “won” and the eighth-graders dressed me up with a complete outfit, “tattoos” and face paint. Another time I “won” I got to kiss a snake. Yes, it was a frightening experience, but that added to the fun for our students to see me as a real person. It helped break down barriers. Trust is a risk, but it goes back to cultivate a culture that is authentic.”

Creating a positive culture goes beyond the school and into the Hudson home. Carter Hudson has a strong background in math and has obviously been inspired by his parents. “My parents influenced me to make a difference and to be inspired,” he says. When RMAE had an opening for advanced math students in algebra, Carter accepted the post on a temporary basis. “I didn’t know how much I would enjoy it,” Carter claims. “I got hooked and now plan to be a teacher.”

As a mother, educator and leader of RMAE, Ann summarizes, “I love what I do. I feel honored to work within our school and alongside our students’ parents. Their child is their life. The most important thing in the world. I am so honored to be part of their kids’ education journeys. I feel honored to get to do this and work with a special group of teachers.” Without a doubt, Ann Hudson sincerely loves her job as an educator. Kids need to be surrounded by caring adults who invest themselves into their lives and their education. Ann illustrates how all of us, including educators, parents and students, can make our world a better place in the present that will definitely impact the future!