McMichael High principal injured in head-on crash, recovering

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Teachers and students are rallying around their principal while a Madison congregation prepares to say goodbye to one of its leaders.

Troopers say Friday morning, 70-year-old Linda Chandler was driving and crossed Highway 220 near Highway 158, hitting Leigh Jones in her vehicle head-on. Investigators say speed, winter weather and impairment were not factors in the crash; they are investigating if and why Chandler lost control of her vehicle.

Chandler died in the crash. She was a mother of three and grandmother of six, the wife of Pastor Donnie Chandler. She helped Co-found Old Country Church in Madison and lived in Stokesdale with her husband.

Leigh Jones is the Principal of McMichael High School in Rockingham County. She is the school district’s Principal of the year for 2012/2013.

Jones was rushed to the hospital Friday. She was listed in fair condition Monday. She passed along a message through hospital officials that she, “misses her kids and teachers.”

Students are rallying to support Principal Jones in her recovery. They’ve created the Twitter hastag #prayformsjones in order to post messages for her.

“Every day she’s smiling at the door. ‘Good morning, good morning, have a great day!’ Just smiling. It’s just a great thing to wake up and see,” remembered former McMichael High School student Michael Yanotti.

He said principal Jones motivated and supported him throughout high school, and when he took on a job post-graduation.

“I’m hoping she makes a full recovery, gets back in there to motivate Seniors to get out of there, to motivate the freshman to do right,” he added.

Emberly Rictor is a Junior at McMichael. “School wasn’t the same today, and we really want her back,” she told FOX8 Monday.

Rictor added, “She loves all of us. I mean she treats us like we’re her own kids. Like she’s our mom. We all really love her. It’s true.”

Another former student added, “Ms. Jones, every time she sees me, she runs up and gives me a big hug and tell me to keep my head up. That’s what I’m trying to do now.”

Rockingham County schools had a staff crisis meeting at McMichael High before school Monday. Parents were notified of the accident this past weekend.

Counselors are available on campus for any students or teachers who need them.

We will continue to keep you updated on Principal Jones’ recovery.

Cards and letters of support can be mailed or dropped off at the school’s front office.  Letters should be addressed to: McMichael High, 6845 Highway 135, Mayodan, NC 27027

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