Until July 1, the kindergarten classroom will be Margaret Heveron's office.
Before she takes over as the principal of Nativity Catholic School, a construction paper ocean, storybooks and tiny chairs will surround her. Her face will still light up when her children enter the classroom, dispensing morning hugs.
One boy upon entering will remark, "This is a fabulous day," and Heveron will giggle.
"From the mouth of babes," she will say with a smile.
Will she miss all this? The cuteness of kindergarten?
"I love it, but what I truly feel is that what I do in kindergarten is what I can now do for the whole school," Heveron said.
Heveron, a teacher with 37 years of experience at Catholic schools, will replace Principal Patricia Boortz, who is leaving the school to begin work on a book.
From the beginning
Heveron has been with Nativity since it opened in 1996 and calls it her "heart and soul" - she was proud to watch her first kindergarten class graduate from Cathedral Catholic High School last Saturday.
Father Lawrence Purcell said the school embarked on a nationwide search for a new principal through the National Catholic Educational Association and they ended up finding the best candidate in their own backyard.
"We're very happy with the choice and people were too when we announced it," Purcell said. "She's very well-known and liked by parents and children and she has a great interest in working with and getting to know the local community, which we're trying to do more of."
Footsteps to fill
Purcell said the school was blessed to have Principal Boortz.
"She is an exceptional leader," Purcell said. "I'm sorry that she won't be here, but I respect her desire to do something new."
Heveron handpicked her "truly incredible" kindergarten replacement, Betty Houston from Santa Fe Montessori.
When Heveron takes the lead, she hopes to continue the focus of the school, which she said is small class sizes, a strong Catholic identity and academics that "challenge the students who need challenging and support the students who need support."
Heveron has been inspired by the incredible support of the school's parents, 40 of whom participated in small focus groups to come up with a long-range plan for the school.
"We're still a baby at 13 years old," Heveron said, noting how much opportunity there still is to grow as a school.
In the fall, Heveron will oversee the opening of the new Holy Family Activity Center, a 12,000-square-foot center with a gym, multipurpose room, a stage with professional audio/visual and lighting, locker rooms, and science and music classrooms.
Heveron said she is a very "hands-on" administrator so she plans to be in the classrooms all the time.
That means she won't miss out on what she said is her favorite parts about teaching kindergarten: the look on a child's face when they read a whole book for the first time.
"It's something that's just magical," she said.