FAIRFIELD — When Judi Honeychurch was a little girl, she played school with her teddy bears and dolls.
She was the teacher.
That was the beginning of Honeychurch’s career in education. As an adult, the career started in 1971. She was a teacher, an administrator and a principal at the former Falls Elementary School, then Suisun Valley Elementary School before retiring in 2008 after spending eight years as principal at Tolenas Elementary School.
But that wasn’t the end of students and education for Honeychurch.
“Two years later, I realized something was missing,” she said. “I wasn’t going to school, I wasn’t seeing kids.”
She started volunteering for The Leaven at the Groves apartment complex location about three years ago and shortly after made the decision to run for a school board position.
That was three years ago and she’s still immersed in both – retired, but still helping students.
She tutors weekly at the apartment complex for The Leaven, which is a multiple-location program that helps at-risk children improve their classroom achievement and self-esteem. The program is structured – it helps elementary-age children with a snack, homework time and play time.
“These are kids who really need a little extra mentoring and support,” she said. “When they’re young like this, this helps build the habit of doing homework.”
Honeychurch still sees some of the older children who don’t meet the age requirements anymore. She said they come in and help, which, she said, builds a friendship and the desire to help each other.
“I’ve seen a lot of after-school programs and it’s simply baby-sitting – not a lot of structure, no stability and continuity,” she said. “This one just stands out over all the years.”
Her husband, Denis Honeychurch, a trustee on the board at Solano Community College, encouraged her to run for an open seat on the Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board.
She said she’s a very competitive person so once she started running she said, “I put everything into it and my goal was to get the most votes.”
Honeychurch said she much prefers being on the board to the campaigning.
Serving on the school board has allowed her to see “the whole big picture” of the district while still helping the students and putting her in a position to communicate with much of the community.
“I’ve just been in education so long, I can’t imagine anything else,” she said. “Education is so important.”
In celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, she spent part of March 2 reading stories at Suisun Valley Elementary School during the national Read Across America event. In a continuation of Read Across America, she read stories March 6 at Solano Town Center mall at an event sponsored by the local teacher’s association.
“As a school board member you get invitations all the time,” she said of the various events. “This was an invitation I couldn’t pass up. I love Dr. Seuss.”
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.