Principal continues recovery

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff
mharrell@starhq.com

  
Happy Valley Elementary's Principal, Peggy Campbell, is doing remarkably well, according to friends and colleagues. She was moved to an ICU step down room at the Johnson City Medical Center Thursday where she continues to make steady improvements.
   Campbell was taken by Wings Air Rescue to the MedCenter last Sunday night after she suffered three gunshot wounds. She has received extensive surgery on her right arm to repair a severed artery.
   Dale Potter, Assistant Principal at Happy Valley Elementary, tries to update the rest of the faculty and students as quickly as he learns of Campbell's status. He receives an update from the hospital on Campbell's condition daily. "She is improving amazingly fast. She is a strong person. She has a strong will," Potter said.
   After working closely with Campbell for several years, Potter is not surprised by her remarkable medical recovery. "She handles situations better than anybody I have ever seen," Potter said. "Parents can come in upset and they leave laughing. She just has a way."
   Potter has served as assistant principal with Campbell for eight years, and has had to take the helm in her absence. He said the mood at the school toward the end of the week was very positive. "It is upbeat here. We are all glad she is doing better," Potter said.
   The faculty, staff and students at Happy Valley have been flooded with support from the community and other schools. Cloudland Elementary brought breakfast for the faculty Friday morning, and parents have been offering to help wherever they are needed.
   Potter is trying to pull the faculty together in Campbell's absence. He noted the importance of adults staying strong for the children during this trying period. The staff has utilized the counselors that have been available at the school to assist in the healing process.
   Campbell has told colleagues that she will be back to work in a couple of weeks, however, Potter is prepared to continue on as principal as long as needed. He stated that realistically nobody knows when Campbell will be able to return to her duties as principal.
   Potter and the rest of the staff at Happy Valley are doing their best to make things as normal at the school as possible. "We are trying to carry on as Ms. Campbell would want us to, and everyone is pitching in to help. The children are amazing and they are asking how she is doing," Potter said. "She just needs to know that we miss her, but are okay. We want her back, but when she is ready to come back. We'll be okay."