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A ‘bittersweet goodbye’ for WHS principal

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Vicki_Puckett_2Vicki Puckett and Woodinville High have been synonymous for the past 12 years.

As the principal, Puckett could be found roaming the school’s halls, classrooms and courtyards, chatting with students, teachers and parents, on the sidelines rooting for the Falcons at countless games or in the audience at the many performing arts and scholastic-oriented events, beaming with pride at the accomplishments of her "kids."

Clad in school colors, and armed with enthusiasm, energy and optimism, she made it known to the student body that she had their back.

The kids knew she was their number one cheerleader and they could count on her for support and encouragement in all their endeavors.

Puckett has been a mainstay at WHS, steering its growth and working tirelessly to offer comprehensive educational opportunities for all students.

Come July, however, she will take on a new challenge when she assumes the position of principal of Alternative Education Programs for Northshore School District.

"It’s a newly created position," explains Puckett. "I’ll be principal of the Secondary Academy of Success (SAS) and head of Northshore Networks. I will also oversee the Woodinville Treatment Center, as well as credit retrieval and secondary summer school programs. Additionally, I will be looking at creating a night school program for high schoolers and exploring the use of cyber learning, among my other responsibilities."

Puckett admits the scope of the work is huge, especially for one administrator. But, she is looking forward to the challenges and to working towards a new vision.

"I want to create programs without walls, without gates," she comments. "The idea is to expand alternative education opportunities. We’re here to serve all students and help kids for whom a comprehensive high school doesn’t work."

Puckett was tapped for the position by Dr. Carolyn O’Keeffe, Northshore’s secondary education assistant superintendent, who says, "Vicki comes with a wealth of experiences in alternative education, special education and the comprehensive high school, which make her an outstanding choice for this position.

"I have appreciated Vicki’s energy and vision at WHS and look forward to her bringing that energy, dedication and visioning to her new position as principal of Alternative Education Programs."

Leaving WHS, however, won’t be easy for Puckett. She loves the school and says she will greatly miss the students and community.

She admits that it’s the students who have given her the most rewards over the years.

"It is the most satisfying experience to watch a student grow into a young adult," she explains.

"The kids come in so many different packages and the talent is incredible, and as they get older, they really come into themselves – into their own – and it’s wonderful to witness this process." She adds, "They look forward to such bright futures and they’re so full of life, fun and energy. I love being among them and connecting with each of them. They’re truly special kids and as principal, I have never forgotten that they are a parent’s most valuable treasure."

In looking back on her time at the school, Puckett is most proud of two main accomplishments.

First, she points to the growth of the Advanced Placement and the College in the High School programs, noting that when she came to WHS, there were only eight of these types of classes. Today, there are 37 sections.

"It used to be that only honors students could take these classes," notes Puckett. "Now, they’re open to anyone and everyone and we highly encourage kids to choose their passion and go for it by taking one or more of these classes."

She adds, "The credit for the growth of this program goes to the faculty and their willingness to take on the rigors of teaching these types of courses. They have to do the work and put in all the hours, and I can’t thank them enough for their efforts."

Puckett is also proud of the WHS community – the students, their parents and the staff – who have helped to make the school a better place academically and physically.

"We are the only high school in Northshore to get out of the ADP (Adequate Yearly Progress) after three years," she says. "The ADP is a report card from the state. It’s a measure of year-to-year student achievement on the state assessment in reading and math."

In regards to other aspects of improvement, Puckett cites an elevation of student leadership at the school. She points to the fact that students have more of a voice in major decisions that impact them, such as the major renovation project and the student handbook, the latter which they helped to rewrite.

Currently, WHS is in phase 2 of its renovation, a massive endeavor that has been a collaborative planning effort involving students, staff, parents and other members from the community.

"It’s been very exciting for us because we’re basically getting a whole new school," says Puckett.

"We already have a new commons and library, and by the end of this summer, there’ll be a new office wing and a 47-classroom building. Next year, we’ll get a new gym annex and the following year, a new performing arts wing. Woodinville is going to be an incredible state-of-the-art school when the project is completed."

She adds, "It’s the worst time for me to leave, being in the middle of it all, but I know I’ll keep tabs on the progress and come by every so often to check it out."

WHS will always have a special place in Vicki Puckett’s heart. It’s hard for her to imagine not being at the helm of the school, after all these years.

"It’s a bittersweet goodbye," she admits. "I’m sad, but I know change is good and I’m looking forward to my new responsibilities. But, no matter where I am, I will forever be Falcon green through and through."

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