Nothing says "We love you" and "We'll miss you" like a playful, little pup.

Nothing says "We love you" and "We'll miss you" like a playful, little pup.

Jefferson Elementary School staff and students bade a tearful farewell to retiring Principal Tom Sherwood at their end-of-the-year assembly Friday morning. And, as a parting gift, the staff surprised Sherwood with an 8-week-old, rambunctious golden retriever named Jefferson.

"I'm shocked," said Sherwood. "I did not expect this, and I'm really surprised that my wife agreed to it."

Shortly after spring break, Sherwood mentioned to the school's office manager, Cheri Paradis, and secretary, Sandy Vandagrift, that he wanted a golden retriever.

Paradis and Vandagrift secretly got the OK from Sherwood's wife and started puppy shopping.

School staff and PTO members pitched in "$5 here and $10 there" to pay for Jefferson, his shots, a dog bed, a carrier, dog food, toys and a puppy mat, Vandagrift said.

Sherwood's wife named him Jefferson, although the school also had suggested Jet — its mascot — as a possible name.

Sherwood is retiring from a 33-year career as an educator, including 22 years as a primary teacher with Portland Public Schools, several years as a reading coach and vice principal with the Hillsboro School District and the last six years as principal of Jefferson Elementary.

This fall, Rick Snyder, who currently is principal at Jacksonville Elementary, will transfer to Jefferson Elementary to take Sherwood's place.

— Teresa Thomas