LaVerne Mattocks was born and raised in Oriental, N.C., and began her teaching career at her alma mater, Pamlico County High School. Her son Devin, 26, attended N.C. State University, while son Caleb, 13, is currently a student at Culbreth Middle and daughter Lanaa, 8, attends Rashkis Elementary. LaVerne was named the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools 2015 Principal of the Year in October.
“I engage in a labor of love every day,” LaVerne says. “I haven’t been ‘to work’ in a long, long time.” LaVerne is a North Carolina education system pro. She’s worked as a high school English teacher, coached cheerleading, sponsored the senior prom and coordinated after-school programs. Now serving as the principal at Carrboro High, she spends her days continually thinking about how to be her best, so she can support teachers to achieve their best … “so our students can be their best!” LaVerne says. “With each new day, I have the opportunity to greatly and positively impact the lives of others I encounter.” This is true, she says, in her professional life as much as her personal life, where she is a mother of three and a woman of strong faith. “My grandfather taught us to just keep saying ‘good morning,’” LaVerne says.
The most rewarding moments for LaVerne come when she hears back from past students. She recalls one young woman from her days as an assistant principal at a Durham public school who recently reached out to her via Facebook. “She overcame tremendous obstacles, trusted in herself and is now a nurse,” LaVerne says. To hear the student from nine years ago say that LaVerne’s support helped her through hard times confirms the educator’s belief that “showing how much you care for students can pay immeasurable dividends.”
“I really wanted her to believe that she could do anything,” LaVerne says of their quasi-mentor/mentee relationship. “She had the brightest spark in her eyes.” LaVerne remembers one conversation – of their many – during the student’s senior year. The student had tears in her eyes, saying, “I’m going to make it. I’m going to be somebody.”
“I tried to convey to her – ‘Sweetheart, you already are somebody.’”