WHS Assistant Principal Melissa VanMeter believes that keeping close ties with the community is very important.
“We want (the community) to know that they are a part of our school — it is the school where they went, their kids went and their parents went,” she said.
This is VanMeter’s first year as assistant principal at WHS. As a graduate of Wahama, VanMeter said that she was pleased to have the opportunity to work at her home school. Prior to taking the assistant principal’s job, VanMeter taught music for 18 years and worked with show choirs, marching bands, flag corps and dance teams. She also served as a judge for various marching band festivals and guest conductor for honors choirs in West Virginia and Virginia.
According to VanMeter, she became involved in education through her parents.
“My parents were in education and I enjoyed growing up in this type of atmosphere,” she said. “My mother, Barbara Mitchell, is a teacher for Mason County Schools with 36 years of teaching experience and my father is Gary Stewart, who was the band director at Point Pleasant High School for 34 years before retiring. He now teaches at Rio Grande University. My stepfather, Gary Mitchell, served as a teacher, principal and has been serving for several years as the director of maintenance in Mason County. With the excellent educators I was surrounded with, my choice to teach was a natural one.”
VanMeter described her work at WHS as being both exciting and fulfilling.
“This is my first year as assistant principal, and it has been a rewarding experience,” she said. “When I changed my profession, I wanted to stay in education and stay in contact with the kids, and I have done just that. We have set very high goals for Wahama High School and we plan to improve every aspect of this school. We have a wonderful staff, great students and parents and a wonderful community that gets behind their school.”
VanMeter said working at her former high school has been particularly enjoyable because she gets to interact with parents and children that she knows from the area.
“Most of the kids have worked with me before and they know my family is involved always with helping kids and seeing them succeed,” she said.
VanMeter said making the transition from teacher to administration was the most interesting part of her job.
“Going from being a teacher to actually running the school building is interesting. As a teacher you deal with one class and subject and now I deal with all of the students, teachers and staff,” she said.
In addition, VanMeter said that her responsibilities include managing the building and finances. Her daily work schedule involves arriving at school by 7:30 a.m. and dealing with parent contacts, conducting school and class walk-throughs as well as attending meetings and after school activities, such as sporting events.
“We are here late for some activities and are involved with all our students are,” she said. “Each day is different and I like it that way.”
During her time as assistant principal, VanMeter said that she has formed several lasting memories. However, she described this year’s homecoming as being particularly memorable.
“My fondest memory is homecoming week because we really incorporated more of the community in it and we basically brought back activities that we used to do in the past,” she said.
In fact, VanMeter described several school activities that involved the community as being memorable. Just this year, WHS has worked with the community in their Veteran’s Day program, River Sweep Contest, VFW essay contests and the Hall of Fame project. In addition, students participated in the recent parade for the Field Service Company 1092nd Battalion. Students also presented the troops with gift bags during their send-off luncheon at the armory.
VanMeter encouraged others to live their life as best they can.
“Life is short, live your life to the fullest,” she said.
This is certainly one piece of advice that VanMeter has applied to her own life as she continues to make each day count as well as influence the lives of the many students that pass through her doors.
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