Ann Godden moved to Herndon from Arlington more than 33 years ago and has been a staple part of the Herndon Elementary School community ever since. 

“I always loved working with children. I liked working with families and colleagues, I am just a people person,” Godden said. “I began teaching second grade at Greenbriar East Elementary, I spent two years in London teaching, had four children of my own, and in 1996 I began teaching third grade at Herndon Elementary School. It was my home for 25 years.”

Godden has taught a variety of grades and subjects. She taught second, third and fourth grade throughout the years. She originally taught her students all subjects, but then there was a change in what the community needed. “Formerly the school had a French-emersion program. But that program changed as the community did and instead it became a Spanish-emersion program made up of English and Spanish speaking students,” said Godden. Godden had a colleague who helped her teach the emersion program and the pair would work together to help with translations for students and parents.

While Godden spent 32 years in total teaching, 30 of them were spent right here in Fairfax County. “The most rewarding part of teaching over the past 32-years has been working with the students, families and staff,” she said. “It allowed me to be a lifelong learner, including learning new teaching techniques.”

Godden is thankful for the school where she taught, and all four of her children ended up going to that school as well. “Herndon is a caring elementary school and  a very close-knit community. The community includes the staff, students and families. I love how caring of a community it is,” Godden said. 

The Spanish emersion teacher’s last year teaching before retirement was anything but normal, however. The COVID-19 pandemic required the experienced teacher to learn how to teach virtually. “This last year required lots of training to understand the platforms in order to teach virtually,” Godden said. “Many of the children had limited tech skills, as did their parents. But by the end, some of the students became more proficient than me in technology. It was great still being able to keep children engaged and see them make progress in reading.” 

When the children were allowed into the classroom, Godden was excited to finally meet her students in person and not talk to them from behind a screen. “When we did finally go back to in person, it was fun to see how tall or short students were and really get to know them,” Godden said. 

While Godden had her retirement party virtually, she is still grateful for the experience and her time in the community giving back. “I was always so blessed to work with fabulous administrators, colleagues and staff members,” she said. “I will still be volunteering and subbing at Herndon Elementary School even in retirement.”

The long-time educator also has some wisdom to share with new teachers. “Be flexible, give students choices, be ready to learn new ways to teach, listen to your teammates,” Godden said. “Be ready to learn even when you are old.”

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