CEDAR HILL, Texas — For the orchestra students at Cedar Hill High School, last year ended on a sad note.
“Yeah, I definitely cried a little bit,” said senior Joshua Roberts.
“I was a mess. I was bawling and everything,” said senior Ejemen Osunde.
“I mean, it was taking everything in me to not start sobbing because that was so much,” senior Natalie Pegues said.
Back in May, orchestra director Elizabeth Judd told the students last year would be her last year.
She was retiring to focus on her husband’s health. He was having heart issues and needed to slow down.
When Ms. Judd made the announcement, her students weren’t the only ones struggling to say goodbye.
“Absolutely gut-wrenching,” Judd said. “And I knew then that maybe I wasn’t done. These kids, they are everything to me. And I just didn’t want to leave them.”
That’s why, when students returned to class, they were greeted by a familiar face.
Two months after Ms. Judd retired, she returned.
Students expecting to see a new teacher, were absolutely stunned.
“Ms. Judd,” Roberts said he yelled. “I was running down the hall, being extra as I always am.”
“I didn’t believe it in the slightest,” said Osunde. “I thought I was having a prank pulled on me.”
“It was truly like meeting up with a family member you haven’t seen in a while,” Pegues said.
Judd stays with family during the week and drives to Shreveport, where she moved at the end of the previous school year, to spend weekends with her husband.
On the first day of school, once students realized Judd was here to stay, they started to play, picking up where they left off.
Students say Judd has taught them so much about music, but even more about life.
“Many of us matured and became the person that we are today because of her,” Osunde said.
Ms. Judd says right back at ‘ya.
“They teach me every day how to love, unconditional love,” Judd said. “I love them.”
The students love her, too.
So much so, many of them want to follow in her footsteps.
“Being able to build those connections with students and help them grow, I think is something that’s really made me want to pursue music and music education,” Pegues said.
Music to Ms. Judd’s ears.
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