John Whiston is not a new face at Lewis County High School, but will be in a new role as principal when students return August 13. Whiston has been assistant principal since 2006, and prior to that he taught history beginning in 2003.
“I’m a little excited,” he said, adding the school has a good team in place, saying, “If not for the team we have here I wouldn’t have wanted it.”
Whiston has already met with the leadership and curriculum teams, and said teachers are bouncing ideas off each other.
“It’s a positive environment,” he added.
LCHS has people who will put the school above personal gains. Whiston said they all need to be pulling in the same direction. He is also working with staff to implement enrichment into scheduling. He said, “We need to let students know we’re going to get them through school and graduate.”
Whiston said there are some things he and the staff need to do differently, but he added, “Some things we’re doing really well.”
One specific thing Whiston wants to work on is increasing math scores, and offering extra help throughout the school day. Decreased frustration levels will make discipline problems go away, he continued.
Whiston comes from a long line of educators on both sides of his family. His grandfather on his mother’s side, along with his siblings, pursued careers in education. Four of those brothers rented a room in Sutton to go to school during the week. They would walk from Little Birch to Sutton every Sunday. His grandmother on his mother’s side, as well, became a teacher. He recalled hearing stories of his grandmother walking to the train, which she then rode to Glenville Normal School in Glenville, now Glenville State College.
On Whiston’s dad’s side, his grandfather was the oldest child, who went to work in the coal mines at the age of 16. He helped put his sister through school, and after he broke his back, she came home and supported him. Both of Whiston’s sisters also pursued careers in education, one a counselor in VA, and the other a former teacher now author and public speaker.
Whiston said family reunions were filled with stories about teaching. His wife, Jena, is also a former teacher.
Students have seen Whiston walk the halls every day, and while that may change slightly, he said he will be visiting teachers more than students now. “I always liked talking with kids,” he said. He anticipates LCHS will have roughly 730 students enrolled for the 2018-19 year.
Safety is also a concern, and Whiston firmly believes the relationships he and the staff build with students goes a long way in preventing tragedies.
“We’ve always got to think about the kids,” he said.
Whiston officially assumed his new role July 1, after being hired in June.