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Parents rally to defense of La Crosse principal

South Boston News
Connie Puckett / February 20, 2013
Parents of La Crosse Elementary students appeared before the School Board on Monday night to speak out in support of La Crosse Principal Connie Puckett, who is in line to be reassigned to the classroom.

A contingent of parents and supporters attended the trustees’ monthly meeting in Boydton to express their frustration at the Central Office’s handling of Puckett, who they praised as a caring and effective school leader.

On Jan. 29, Puckett received a letter from Superintendent of Schools James Thornton recommending that she be removed from her position as principal of La Crosse Elementary School at the end of the 2012-13 school year. She is not being fired. Instead, Thornton is asking to have Puckett returned to the classroom.

Puckett said she was not at liberty to discuss the contents of the letter, but responded in writing to the deficiencies alleged by Thornton. “I provided him with dates and times of meetings at which we were given instructions and information to carry out. I have not been told when my appeal will go before the School Board.”

The decision on whether to leave Puckett in place or move her ultimately rests with the nine School Board trustees.

During the meeting, four parents spoke on behalf of Puckett. Christine Martin, the PTO President at La Crosse Elementary, said she was expressing the opinion of the members of the PTO in calling for trustees to investigate the reasons Thornton seeks Puckett’s reassignment. Martin called Puckett “a strong leader, mentor to her staff, and someone who steps out of the box to make La Crosse an inviting environment.”

Timothy Ittner read a letter being circulated by the teaching staff at La Crosse Elementary School. The letter highlighted the various roles Puckett fills, including school nurse, janitor, mentor, teacher and principal. It also included a commendation for Puckett’s willingness to open up La Crosse Elementary for ESL [English as second language] classes. In short, Ittner said Puckett has the support and respect of both teachers and parents because of her positive and effective communication style.

Two parents of La Crosse Elementary students, Mark Powell and Rebecca Hood, made similar comments. They both praised Puckett for her hands-on approach, her kindness to the children and her dedication to the school and students. Hood said, “She is one of the few administrators who doesn’t leave foot prints on someone’s back trying to get out the door at the end of the day.”

Puckett said this is the first time she has had to go through the process of appealing a decision by the school superintendent in her 24 years as an educator.

She has been principal of La Crosse Elementary School for two years. During that time, the school received a number of honors, including the Distinguished Title 1 School award and two Governor’s awards for excellence and academic competency.

Additionally, La Crosse Elementary School met its AYP (adequate yearly progress) goals in each of the last three years, even though Mecklenburg County, as a whole, did not meet AYP last year.

Before coming to La Crosse, Puckett was assistant principal at Chase City, and before that Boydton. She has worked for Mecklenburg County Public Schools since 1991.

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Sounds like she po the sup and now he wants to get even. From the awards she may have showed him up and people in these sup. positions get big egos. I have never met a school super. that I liked.


Ms Pucket it is the best thing that has happened to the school since Mr Graham passed away! My child hated school because she had a learning disability and was singled out by the past principal. When Ms Pucket came to La Crosse she took the time to make my child feel loved and special! My child loves Ms Pucket and has a whole new outlook on school she loves school now and is very heartbroken that mister thortan is trying to take her away from them she made the comment tonight if Ms Pucket has to leave she is going with her. We have got to do whatever we can to keep her as our principal she not only touches the hearts of our children she touches the parents heart too!! We love you Ms Pucket and we got your back!!


It seems to me, someone with a bone to pick has Mr Thorton ear. Or maybe he's the one with the bone. I just hope trustees or whomever has the final say, will seek the greater good.
I have been taking my grandchildren to school since my retirement in 2009. My oldest is in the fourth grade. She is ADHD. The last principal either didn't care, or didn't know how to handle a child like her. Things changed as soon as Ms Puckett came here. I walk the children to the door. When she see's Ms Puckett outside, she jerks her hand out of mine and runs to her for a hug. She still has ADHD, but is not belittled because of it. The credit for the change in her can mostly be given to Ms Puckett and one of her teachers. No complaint with any of her teachers but one has gone way out to help her. Would only use her name with permission. Now if Ms Puckett will help my grandchild as much as she does, and show her love as much as she does. I just cannot believe she is the only child she loves and helps.

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