John Puccio reflects on his first year as Pascack Valley Principal

John Puccio reflects on his first year as principal at Pascack Valley.


Grace Heiser and Alexa Yastrovskaya

John Puccio is finishing his first year in his new role as principal of PV, after 12 years of being assistant principal.

Sarah Shapiro and Sophie Kolax

Although Pascack Valley Principal John Puccio knew that he was going to become principal one day, he didn’t work in administration for the title. 

“[I] never had this desire [to be principal],” Puccio said. “If I was worried about the title or that was my goal, I would have left PV earlier. If you do your job and you enjoy doing your job, [it is hard to] figure out if you come to work or school every day.”

Before Puccio became an administrator at PV, he worked at two other districts. He left his first district in order to pursue an opportunity in a bigger one, in which he worked for several years and “really enjoyed his time there.”

“When I was fortunate to come to PV, I liked the big school environment,” Puccio said. “I liked the environment of the kids in the community, our faculty, and staff here. It was in an environment that was challenging to me, and that offered great opportunities for our students academically and with clubs.”

During the interview process for the principal position, Puccio said he had COVID and had to conduct his interview remotely. 

“I received a lot of positive reinforcement and feedback [from the community] when I was given the opportunity,” Puccio said. “So, I am grateful and appreciate the support that I have been getting from kids, teachers, community, and parents. I hope people just realize that [PV] is a special place for me.”

Puccio had worked at PV for a while, but after 12 years in the school as assistant principal, he rose to principal. 

“I rely on so many people in this building,” Puccio said. “We brainstorm and we communicate. Communicating with everyone in this building and utilizing their expertise, as well as their experience, help decisions come a little easier.”

Coming from a year of hybrid school, Puccio found that there were gaps in learning. So, Puccio had an expectation from the administration and staff to create a positive environment. 

“So the expectations with our teachers and our entire staff was [to be] patient and understanding. [This school year was going to be] a transition and [there would] be some hiccups in there,” Puccio said.

Puccio had a lot of ambition for his first year as principal. He set out to achieve his goals in rebuilding PV as he worked hard to bring the school back after the pandemic and continue to build PV into the best it could be. 

“The sense of belonging for all students here is an ongoing process,” Puccio said. “We did a lot of good things here, but we’re not perfect, and I think we [have room to] improve [for next] year.”

After his first year as principal, Puccio gained an idea of what he looks forward to in his upcoming years as principal, especially in the sense of his major goals and tasks.

Puccio’s goal is to return to some of the original events and fundraisers that made PV special. Such as the blood drive, senior citizen day, and other events.

“The last thing we want to do is take a couple of steps back and create a situation where we have a significant amount of cases come up that we have to mask back up,” Puccio said. “The next step forward in this process is to bring back Valley Cup [the way it used to be] and additional things that we used to do with Student Council.”

As this school year nears its end, Puccio is optimistic about the future and proud of what he and the school have accomplished this year.

“I wish our seniors a lot of luck and success in their new journey,” Puccio said. “We will miss them. Next year it’s time for our juniors to take leadership in this building, and I’m looking forward to where they want to go in making Pascack Valley a better place.