#MNPSVoices: Lolita Kinnard, Administrator-Records, School Financial and Payroll

Lolita Kinnard, records and payroll administrator at Percy Priest Elementary, is something of a legend within Metro Nashville Public Schools, having pulled 9,949 teeth since 1986. She still remembers how it all started—with a brave student named Cynthia who came to Kinnard with a wiggly tooth. So, with a song and a purposeful tug, Kinnard successfully pulled her first tooth and rewarded the student with a treasure box.

Lolita Kinnard Photo

She discovered a knack for completing the task without the students even noticing their tooth had been pulled. Over the last 20 years, and with parent permission, Kinnard pulled hundreds of teeth each year. The first tooth is always documented in the yearbook, but the important pull will be the ten thousandth tooth, a milestone she expects to achieve this year. Percy Priest plans to throw her a celebration complete with dental hygiene giveaways. Although she knows tooth pulling will be a big part of her legacy, she also wants to be remembered as being a reliable staple of her school community.

“I want to be remembered as loyal, nice and true blue, meaning that I stick to what I believe in,” Kinnard said.

The students throughout the years have shared their thanks with visits to the Percy Priest office and sweet notes of appreciation. Kinnard received one recently from a second-grade student who started with: “Dear Ms. Lolita, you are the best. You are funny, happy and you always make me smile.”

“I treasure little notes from the students, they make my heart smile,” she said.

Kinnard is a creature of habit and comfort on certain things – such as working at MNPS for 33 years, living in the same house for 36 years and never refusing an opportunity to pull a tooth – but her social life is ever evolving. She is part of a motorcycle club, involved in her church, has a group of traveling companions (who are also school secretaries and bookkeepers) and is constantly finding new crafting projects to complete with her siblings. Although her social life is full, she acknowledges her professional life is just as rewarding.

“I have been here (Percy Priest) so long, this is my family,” Kinnard said. “It is rare to find a place where you feel loved and needed every single day.”