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The living room becomes a staging area for Kristen Hood as she prepares to transform herself into Princess Diana for the Rowan County Middle School Halloween celebration. Every morning, she turns to the living room of the family home to get ready, so as not to disturb her sleeping husband James and their children. The couple lead child-centered lives as teachers at Rowan County Middle School, and parents of two children.

The woman hood

story by Clint Datchuk

Kristen Hood, 39, is in constant motion from the moment she wakes at 5 a.m. Exiled to the living room of her Rowan County home by her sleeping husband and children, she readies herself for a long day among children.

This morning she is transforming herself into Princess Diana. It’s part of her celebration of Halloween as an influential historical figure for her eighth grade social studies classes at Rowan County Middle School. Soon her husband, James, and their children, Harper, 4, and Haddie, 18 months, will awaken, and Kristen and James will begin to orbit their child-centered universe.

Kristen and James have worked as social studies teachers at Rowan County Middle for 10 years. Since the arrival of Harper and Haddie, the couple have dedicated themselves to raising and educating children.

“When I first had Harper, I really had to clean my mouth up, 'cuz I love to cuss,” says Kristen with a smile.

There is much more in the couple’s lives than clean language, though. Kristen has been helping for months to organize the school Halloween dance. The proceeds will fund yearly class trips to Washington, D.C.

“Last night when I went to bed, finally at like 9:30,” she says. “My brain would not shut off. I was thinking, rambling off a to-do list, and I could not get it to stop. And I struggle with that. Shutting my brain off is difficult.”

Halloween is a week-long celebration for the couple. James will accompany Kristen’s Princess Diana at the Halloween dance as Prince Charles. Harper was Little Red Riding Hood for the Rowan County Preschool Center's Halloween parade. Kristen took off her fifth-period class to attend. Even with the children away at the grandparents’, there are still the children of the middle school to look after. The couple will spend their first night in weeks alone together wrangling the costumed kids of Rowan Middle School, and they wouldn't have it any other way.

Says Kristen, "I'd have more kids if I could afford it."

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Wearing her full Princess Diana ensemble Halloween costume, Kristen Hood gets her daughter Harper, 4, ready for school as she eats breakfast.

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"We never get to have breakfast together," Kristen Hood says affectionately as she and her husband James, enjoy a quiet moment before waking their children and preparing the family for school.

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In early morning hustle and bustle of a household prepping for a long day at school, Kristen and James Hood change their daughters while also getting themselves ready to teach classes at middle school.

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Harper Hood and her father James Hood discuss what the day ahead holds as they wait in the car in the early morning hours for the Rowan County Preschool Center to open.

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Every schoolday, James Hood walks his daughter, Harper, into preschool, guiding her through the breakfast line. After sitting with her a moment then kissing her goodbye, James headed to school his own school to teach middle school social studies.

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Kristen Hood pauses to direct traffic at the Rowan County Middle School Halloween Dance as students wait outside for the doors to open.

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Soaking up the spotlight, Kristen Hood enjoys the royal treatment afforded her by her students at the Halloween dance. The event is a fundraiser for the yearly trip her social studies class takes to Washington, D.C.

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Annalese Jefferson, 12, lets loose by sashaying her dress to the music on the dancefloor at the Rowan County Middle School Halloween Dance.

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Kristen Hood helps clean up after the students have funneled out of the Rowan County Middle School Halloween Dance. "I'm a custodian now," she says. "I've gone from Princess Diana to a teacher. I play all sorts of roles. Literally."