Puckett back on the job as LaCrosse principal
Beginning her second stint as LaCrosse Elementary School principal, Connie Puckett is thankful for all the support she received from the community and school division during a medical absence at the start of the school year.
Puckett had a lower leg amputated after being involved in a motorcycle crash in Marion, Va., on Aug. 6.
The crash occurred about a month after Puckett was rehired as LaCrosse Elementary School principal, a position she previously held through the 2010-11 school year before spending a year teaching first grade at Clarksville Elementary and several years within the Halifax County school system.
Puckett noted she had spent approximately 26 years as a teacher and administrator in Mecklenburg County prior to her employment in Halifax.
“I felt like it was my home and where I needed to be,” she said of her decision to return to the division. “I thoroughly enjoy and love being a principal. I like the connection with the teachers, the children, the parents, the community.”
Puckett was discharged from the hospital Sept. 21 and visited with the staff at LaCrosse Elementary on Sept. 23, returning to work the first week in October.
Noting she’s still in and out of the office while working toward being able to utilize a prosthetic leg, Puckett, who resides in Union Level and is married to Jimmy Puckett, owner of Service Plus Propane, attributes support from her family, school system staff and the community with helping her get through her initial recovery quickly.
“I’m very excited to be back, I guess just determined to be back,” she said. “I have been very blessed that so many people have reached out and showed their care for what was going on with me. The number of cards I received while I was in the hospital was unreal. It’s hundreds of them. I couldn’t have done it just by myself. All the support here at school with the teachers, their determination to help me in any way, the community, that played a big role in me being able to get back so soon.”
In one of the community outreach efforts, Trinity Custom Apparel printed a number of shirts that said #TeamPuckett on the front and “Making a difference every day” on the back, a phrase that alludes to a poem Puckett has shared with colleagues in the past.
Puckett said prior to the crash, she had met with some of the instructional teams and talked about the goals for LaCrosse Elementary the upcoming school year.
“The faculty pulled together and got school started,” she said. “I’m really proud of them.”
Puckett noted Mecklenburg County Public Schools Director of Elementary Instruction Tracey Rogers, South Hill Elementary School Assistant Principal Casey Wilson Jackson and LaCrosse Elementary Guidance Counselor Lena Puryear, among others, have all assisted with administration of the school during the principal’s absence.
LaCrosse Elementary School is fully accredited, and Puckett said, “We plan to stay in this status and continue to increase.”
She said the instructional teams at LaCrosse Elementary and Mecklenburg County Public Schools put quite a bit of effort into pouring over data and studying individual students and how best to serve their needs.
“It’s not just a guess,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work put into determining what each child needs and trying to meet the needs of each child.”
Puckett noted that for many years during her first stint in Mecklenburg County, the division was among the top performing public school systems in the state.
“I think the county and the leadership have always tried to keep us up to par in where we need to be,” she said. “I have worked with a lot of wonderful mentors, and I have worked with a lot of wonderful teachers that care about the children in this county.”
Puckett said the vision for LaCrosse Elementary goes beyond maintaining full accreditation and passing Standards of Learning (SOL) tests.
“We want to hopefully meet as many needs of as many children as we possibly can and make a difference in as many children’s lives as we possibly can,” she said.