Around 200 students and parents, both current and alumni, came out to pay tribute to Goldman, who re-opened Huff Elementary nine years ago and saw the student body nearly double, with 472 students attending this year.
The evening's speakers and dozens of parents and staff in attendance were visibly upset during the tribute, weeping as they said good-bye to the beloved principal.
"He truly had a vision for what Huff could be, and he created a place where every child could belong," said parent Carin Wineman, who sat on Huff's PTA board in 1998 when the Mountain View Whisman School District opted to reopen the school, located on Martens Avenue in Mountain View.
Music teacher Kaye Devries echoed the sentiments, saying, "In terms of principals I've known at other schools, he's the best. He really listens and is supportive, and he has a very broad view of education and what it means to educate someone. It's a hard act to follow."
Many of Thursday's speakers made mention of the school's motto, "Huff Love," which Goldman repeated and promoted often during his tenure.
"Craig used the word 'love' with students. He talked about how important it was to have love for the other students, teachers and for themselves," said parent Rachel Ross, vice president of the Huff PTA.
Ross continued, "I didn't hear my principal use the word 'love' when I was young. These kids are lucky to have heard such a message from their principal."
As a gift, the school presented Goldman with an aerial photograph of the entire student body spelling out "Huff Love" on the athletic field.
The photograph was kept a secret until the unveiling, and required the coordination of all staff, students and many parent volunteers, Clay said. It was taken by parent Rick Martin, a former Mercury News photographer, in a plane piloted by another Huff parent, Clay Ross.
Goldman told the crowd, "I didn't bring Huff love to Huff. I found it here."
He continued, "This has always been an extremely generous community, and I've been a conduit for that generosity. I truly believe our school has never lacked for anything."
Goldman will take over the position of district chief financial officer on June 30, replacing outgoing CFO Rebecca Wright. He will be replaced at Huff by Richard Yee.