CROWN POINT | Solon Robinson Elementary School fourth-graders welcomed Indiana first lady Karen Pence with hugs and handmade cards Friday when the governor's wife visited the building.
The greetings felt like home to Pence, who taught school for more than 25 years.
"We're all really in it for the hugs," she said, getting nods of agreement from other educators on the tour.
Pence traveled with her husband, Gov. Mike Pence, to Northwest Indiana on Friday and said she'd made it a point to visit as many schools as possible.
"I love kids and I want to be in schools," she said.
The tour Friday included stops at Lake Central High School in St. John and Merrilliville Intermediate School.
The visit to Blue Ribbon-award winning Solon Robinson included a stop in the media room, where librarian Fiona McCarroll thanked Pence and her husband "for everything you do to support education."
Principal Barbara Merrill guided Pence to the music room, where second-graders performed songs they've been practicing for an upcoming appearance at the March School Board meeting.
During her stop at the cafeteria, where fourth-graders were finishing lunch, Pence answered students' questions, including the names of the family pets: Maverick the beagle, and cats Pickle and Oreo.
Pence asked students to stay tuned to events surrounding Indiana's upcoming 200th birthday, for which Pence has been named ambassador.
The longtime teacher told the fourth-graders she appreciated walking into a cafeteria at lunchtime and being met with kindness, attention and respect.
"I applaud you," she told the students.