School cafeteria manager sends inspiring messages to first graders on bananas: 'You are enough'

Abby Haglage
A cafeteria manager at a Virginia elementary school wrote messages of hope on bananas. “She just wanted it to brighten their day,” the principal said. (Photo: @DrShewbridge via Twitter)
A cafeteria manager at a Virginia elementary school wrote messages of hope on bananas. “She just wanted it to brighten their day,” the principal said. (Photo: @DrShewbridge via Twitter)

When the cafeteria manager at Kingston Elementary School in Virginia Beach, Va., decided to pen messages of hope and love to students on bananas, she didn’t imagine that the act would earn her accolades online. “She’s almost embarrassed about all the attention,” Kingston’s principal Sharon Shewbridge tells Yahoo Lifestyle, discussing the press the gesture has garnered. “She just wanted it to be anonymous. But I said this is so simple and amazing — and it has such an impact on kids.”

Shewbridge says the manager — who has worked at Kingston Elementary for nine years — really “values” the relationships she has with the families at school, and makes sure all of the kids are taken care of daily. The idea to inscribe the bananas with messages came from her own mother, who encouraged her to start doing it at home. “She had been doing it for her kids, and she thought, ‘If my kids went to this school, I’d want someone to do it for them,’” says Shewbridge.

While the idea was unexpected, it quickly earned a nickname among the students, grades one through five, who walked past them. “This was the first time she did it for the students, and when they came through the lunch line, they saw all these inspirational notes,” Shewbridge tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They started calling them ‘talking bananas.’” By the end of lunch, only a few were left.

Although the “talking bananas” were a first for the school, Shewbridge says she imagines the students might see them again soon. “It’s simple, but these words can help them be more courageous and realize that they are good enough,” says Shewbridge. “I hope that other schools see it’s an easy way to get a kind message to kids.”

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