Like most parents who are sending their children off to their first day of kindergarten, Becky Bedene felt a mix of emotions when she said goodbye to her 5-year-old son, Beau, earlier this week. She was excited to see him grow, of course, but anxious to be away from his side.

Like most parents who are sending their children off to their first day of kindergarten, Becky Bedene felt a mix of emotions when she said goodbye to her 5-year-old son, Beau, earlier this week. She was excited to see him grow, of course, but anxious to be away from his side.
And if that wasn’t stress enough, Bedene had an additional issue to tackle, one most parents won’t have to experience. Bedene is entering her first year as a school principal, and it just so happens she’s the new boss at Meadowlark Elementary School, where Beau now studies in Michelle Broxterman’s early years class.

“I’ve always watched parents come in and drop off their children, and it’s an emotional time,” Bedene said in her office Thursday morning. “I hadn’t really thought about how I’d feel. But the teachers were great, and they let me have my mom moment with my son. It was a great day.”

A native of Mulberry, Bedene has been a teacher at Meadowlark since 2003. The transition to principal was made easier by her coworkers, she said, but nerves are nerves.

“I had a lot of mixed emotions with that,” Bedene said. “There were these two huge things in my life happening on the same day.”

Bedene quickly acknowledged her coworkers for their finesse in keeping the line moving.

“They were just great,” she said. “They kept everything going smoothly for me.”

Counselor Melinda Degruson said it was the least the staff could do for their friend.

“She’s a good boss and a good mom,” Degruson said as she popped her head into Bedene’s office. “We knew she’d be able to get things done.”

The process began the week before school started, when Bedene and her husband, Melvin, began to coach Beau on what kindergarten would be like. At first, she said, there was no question in Beau’s mind that kindergarten was not where he would be going.

“Then, the night before, he looked really panicked,” Bedene said.

The first day’s events unfolded something like this: Bedene arrived early last Thursday to help the teachers get ready for the first day. Melvin arrived later in his pickup to drop off Beau.

“He sent me a text saying Beau was crying and didn’t want to get out of the truck,” Bedene said. “He was pulling out the biggest guns he could on his dad.”

Eventually they were able to get Beau to Broxterman’s door, where Bedene promised she would look in on him during the day.

“She was awesome about taking his hand and telling him everything was going to be OK,” Bedene said. “When I came back and looked in the window, he was doing just fine.”

In the office, she said, Melvin was struggling just as much. The parents comforted each other. Bedene said she feels lucky that Beau is in her building.

“In my mind, I thought it was so much better for me because he’s going to be in the building I work in,” she said. “That helped me, knowing we’re not completely separated.”

Of course, there are the perils of nepotism, which Bedene said she has considered thoroughly.

“I tell the teachers I don’t want things to be different from anyone else,” Bedene said. “And it’s challenging because he has to call me Mrs. Bedene, not mom. At home, we have conversations with him so he knows there isn’t going to be any favoritism.”

On Thursday, a week after Beau first started, Bedene said her son had rapidly and positively adjusted to his new environment.

“He loves it, and he said he’s ready to go all day,” Bedene said (all-day kindergarten starts Monday). “He even asked Mrs. Broxterman where she lives, because he thinks she lives here.”