Simon Perry
February 14, 2014 08:45 AM

The Duchess of Cambridge received a rousing welcome as she captured children’s hearts on Valentine’s Day with a charity visit to a school on the outskirts of west London.

Kate, 32, strode into the school hall early Friday to the kinds of screams and loud cheers that the thousand children would normally reserve for their favorite pop stars.

Sporting a blue L.K. Bennett dress, the duchess was at Northolt High School in Ealing to open a new facility for one of her charities, the Art Room.

“She really cares,” said head teacher Gloria Lowe, who chaperoned Kate around the school. “She praised the work in the Art Room, and she was moved and impressed by what she has seen. She’s a wonderful human being.”

Lowe congratulated Kate on Prince George‘s arrival. “She’s enjoying motherhood,” the teacher said.

The Art Room charity helps children in several schools build self-esteem and confidence through art. Kate’s adoption of the cause in 2012 reflects her own desire to use creativity to enrich the lives of young people.

In the newly opened facility, Kate was “incredibly personable, human and anecdotal about her own interests,” Lowe told PEOPLE. “The Art Room is transforming the lives of students who use it. And she absolutely loves art and commended the students in their work.”

A teacher in the Art Room, Emma Lowe (no relation), said Kate sat with eight kids ages 12-16 to see their latest project – painting pictures of fruit. “They were nervous to begin with, but as soon as she started talking to them about their work and focusing on their art, they were put at ease,” she said. “She was very impressed by their skills and complimented them on their work.”

The Art Room “is about improving self-confidence. We focus on the positives, even if it is down to how they have mixed a nice paint color,” she added.

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Among the students who’d given Kate such a rapturous welcome was Carly McCormack. “She was amazing,” said McCormack, 14. “She asked us our names and what we were interested in. She was so easy to talk to.”

Did she live up to expectations? “She was better,” McCormack added.

While Kate was in London, her husband Prince William and brother-in-law Prince Harry were helping to battle a flood in a residential area of Berkshire, working alongside army volunteers to put out sandbags in the area.

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