At first glance, nothing seemed special about Shawna Mole's Waverly Elementary School kindergarten classroom on Tuesday afternoon. Students sat in clustered tables practicing their handwriting, tracing letters with crayons.
Then, the door opened.
Michael Bedford has been away from home since August, training for his position in the U.S. Army. It's the longest he's ever been away from his family. On Tuesday, they were reunited.
"I missed you daddy," 6-year-old Logan Bedford shouted after gasping at the sight of his father, taking off across the classroom to jump into his arms.
The surprise was coordinated by Logan's mother Audrie, Mole, his teacher and Greater Albany Public Schools.
The only people not in on the plan from the beginning? Michael and Logan.
"I told him when he got off the plane," Audrie said of sharing her plan with her husband.
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While the surprise was Audrie's idea, the fanfare surrounding it came from Mole.
"She asked and I was like, 'Let's make it a big deal. This is a big deal,'" Mole said.
GAPS invited local media to document the surprise and explained the cameras by telling students there would be a story about the last few days of school prior to winter break. According to a district spokesperson, the district planned to film the reunion and share it on social media.
The family quickly made their exit, reunited again, but before heading home, Michael noted how happy he was to be back. And he'll remain home for the holidays, according to his wife.
"He'll be home for a few weeks," she said.
Principal Anne Griffith was also in the classroom for the homecoming.
"It was a wonderful opportunity for this family," she said. "Logan was very surprised."
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