“There has been an amazing increase in parent participation, as a result of her efforts; last year the best evening event had maybe 50 people, at the last one we had there were over 200.” Additionally, in November she set about to facilitate what they called “Family Feast Night” which led to them hosting more than 200 families with a grand Thanksgiving dinner.
At Christmas they put together the same type of family engagement activity. Eric Ewell, Parent Advocate for the HEDC said that for Christmas Hughes discovered that her fundraising efforts for the end of the school year trip had such a large amount in it that she took $250 from it then went into her own pocket and added another $250 to go shopping to purchase and wrap a gift for all 220 students at Weil.
“She is the best example I’ve seen in a long time of a person who is not sitting around waiting for others to do what she can do,” she said. “She sees a need and she sets about doing what she can do to address it.”
“I was so afraid there may be some student who might not be getting a gift so I thought that would be a good use of the money,” Hughes said. “But the main thing I was glad we could do was to arrange for Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown to join us. He was so good, he sat and shook hands with all of the kids in line, and signed almost 200 autographs.”
Holly Ballard, the Principal of Pittsburgh Weil, said she has been pleased to support all the initiatives that Hughes has brought to her.
“When I saw how she hit the ground running with making sure our PSCC meetings were fully functioning,” she said. “I knew she had what it took to manage what she took on.” She would come to me with an idea, and I felt confident that she will deliver.”
Among all those that have spoken on behalf of Princess, it is the words of the 5th graders with whom she works directly that is most compelling.
In a conversation with five of them, 10-year-old Kenneth Lewis Moore , 11-year-old Marcus DeAndre Hall, 11-year-old Rondazia Sowell, 11-year-old Parris Holiday, and 10-year-old Jaimice Ayonna Williams , all expressed how much they love and appreciate her and that they felt loved and appreciated in return; and she makes it exciting for them to come to school everyday. The students used the following words to describe “Miss Princess” as they affectionately call her: hardworking, fun, special, loving, caring, intelligent, helpful. They were very open and happy to talk about her service to the school. Kenneth said “Miss Princes lets us know that she sees us as we really are, even if sometime we are bad.”
Marcus said “she is a fundraiser and she is a fun maker.”
Rondazia said “she always makes us feel better, if one of us does something, she will pull us aside and ask us what’s’ going on.”
Parris added “She is like another mother to me, with all the stuff she does, it takes her time from her own family, and truthfully, we know she doesn’t have to do this at all.”
Jaimice is the 10-year-old daughter of Hughes and she stated clearly, “I am happy she is my mom, and I am watching all that she does, and she is showing me how to be a better person and how to give back when I grow up.