HOUSTON (KTRK) --Tuesday marks President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address. In attendance will be Manvel High School Principal Charlotte Liptack. The long time educator has developed a special bond with students and staff.
"Every day, I have kids walking up to me. They wrap their arms about me and say Hey, I love you!" said Liptack. "I'm blessed to be a part of this group."
Blessed, she says, despite her personal tragedy. In August 2014, Larry, her husband of 19 years, and nine-year-old son Landon were killed in a plane crash.
"Every day I still struggle to get out of bed," Liptack said.
Liptack's personal pain was exacerbated by a school-wide tragedy just months later, the deaths of three Manvel high students.
The teens died after the car in which they were riding careened into a ditch and burst into flames. Liptack and the Manvel High Mavericks leaned on each other as they grieved.
"I could have never survived without these people," Liptack said.
U.S. Representative Pete Olson, who lost his own wife in a tragic car accident years ago, heard of Liptack and the school's ordeal, and reached out to her. The principal and the politician are developing a bond only such sadness could build.
She was stunned recently still when she opened an email in which Olson invited her to be his guest as President Barack Obama delivers his last State of the Union address.
Olson explains there's no one else he'd rather invite.
"I want Charlotte to come up and show the world how people can persevere through bad times," Olson said.
Liptack knows it's an honor and an opportunity. While in DC, she plans to push for less standardized testing and more education.
"It's not about tests and it's not about just about acquiring information. It's about a learning experience that they can use to make the world a better place," she said.
Experience, she says, is what brings us all together.