Little Milligan says goodbye to long-time secretary

Published 9:43 am Monday, October 7, 2019

By Christy Dickerson

“I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me — they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.” — Veronica Roth

This quote accurately describes Little Milligan Elementary’s former secretary and bookkeeper, Claudette Campbell. On October 1, Mrs. Claudette, as she is fondly known, retired from her position after 45 years of faithful, loyal service to Carter County Schools.

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Little Milligan is located in the extreme northeastern section of Carter County and opened in the 1940s when Watauga Dam was constructed. The staff there strive to provide a warm, family type environment for all their students. No one could embody those values more than Mrs. Claudette.

The school celebrated with Claudette on Tuesday, Oct. 1, officially proclaiming that day as Claudette Campbell Day. Several former faculty, staff, and community members attended the special program to pay tribute to a lady well loved by all who know her. Mrs. Campbell treated the students, faculty, staff, and community to some of the many memories she has made at Little Milligan.

Claudette was born and raised in the Little Milligan community. She has always lived just over the hill from the school. She attended Little Milligan as a student from 1950-1958. In those days, the school buses didn’t run up the hollers that were close to the school. Those children had to walk.

Claudette told us that in the winter she would walk through the woods and over the hill to school. If she walked through snow, when she arrived at school she went into the furnace room and took off her socks and shoes. Those items were left there to dry and get warm while she was in class. She also told the students there weren’t as many snow days back then.

“If it snowed, we went anyway,” she said. “We were like the mailman. We went in rain, sleet, or snow.”

Life moved on and Claudette went to high school, married, and had a son. WB Street, principal of LM in 1970, asked Claudette to take classes at ETSU and become a substitute. Claudette went to ETSU for two days and took her class while a friend watched her son Brian in the car.

Claudette worked as a substitute teacher for a few years until she was hired as secretary/bookkeeper in 1974. Since that time, Claudette has worn many hats at LM. She has been a fundraiser, a nurse, a psychologist, a counselor, a bookkeeper, an accountant, a plumber, an events coordinator and a provider of mints, information, and a constant stable fixture in our students’ lives.

Many LM students know Claudette is always there for them and always has snacks. Claudette is married to Jim Campbell. Together they have one son, Brian, and his wife, Sharon. She is also the proud grandmother of one granddaughter. Claudette is an amazing lady that will be dearly missed. She said she took her job seriously, and if her signature was on it, then you could bet money it was the real deal. Little Milligan has had to say goodbye to a wonderful lady who will be dearly missed. The faculty, staff, students, and community will miss the sweet, precious voice that answered every phone call with “Little Milligan School, may I help you?”