Lugoff-Elgin Middle School (L-EMS) Principal Karen Bullard is the Kershaw County School District’s (KCSD) Principal of the Year. A panel of school and district administrators voted to select her for the honor. Bullard began serving as L-EMS’ principal in 2010 after serving as Camden High School’s assistant principal. She and her husband are originally from Whiteville, N.C., and have two college-age daughters.
Bullard said the best thing about L-EMS is the teachers.
“The adults here truly care about the children,” Bullard said. “They want them to be successful. They care about each other, too. It’s like a family.”
Bullard explained that the school’s motto is “Understanding hearts and positive attitudes.” She said this ideal drives everything L-EMS does. She is also especially excited about the amount of support her school receives from parents and community members.
“Our PTO is very active. They provide our teachers with materials, food and supplies for the classroom,” Bullard said, praising L-EMS’ School Improvement Council (SIC) for being active as well and adding that another positive aspect is the school’s student body. “It’s great to work with these adolescents. They are special people with unique things to offer.”
She added that if she ever has a bad day, a visit to the sixth grade wing of her school cheers her right up.
“They’re still at the age where they think the principal is cool and they’re excited to see me,” she said.
L-EMS is the first middle school in South Carolina to be re-designated twice for the national Schools to Watch honor recognizing outstanding academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure. Bullard thanks her staff for securing the prestigious recognition.
“This was a school and community project,” she explained. “We wrote the application, worked as a team. This is a very competitive staff. We want to be the best.”
Bullard said finding out she had been selected as the district’s Principal of the Year was “very suprising.
“It was such an honor to be chosen by my peers,” she said. “The other principals in this district are doing amazing things. It was very humbling.”
She said she is grateful to be part of such a supportive and collaborative group of administrators.
“We share burdens, we share excitements. We steal ideas from each other. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am,” Bullard said.
She also noted that district office staff is exceptionally supportive and helpful.
Bullard said she sees great things ahead for L-EMS. She said the school will add more co-teaching classes -- a process where a special education teacher and general education teacher teach together in a classroom at the same time. Bullard said the class would be composed of students from both the special and general education programs.
She said she feels this method of collaborative learning is highly beneficial for students.
“It gives them ownership,” Bullard said, adding that this is the first year co-teaching had been implemented in L-EMS, achieving what she said are great results.
A “farm girl” at heart, Bullard said hard work values have been instilled within her from the beginning. It is this hard work that has helped drive her success, but Bullard also thanks her very encouraging family.
“I have an awesome husband and two very supportive daughters,” Bullard said, also attributing her success to a very positive working environment. “The school district here is fantastic and Kershaw County itself is awesome.”