It’s tough to keep a secret from a school administrator. They’re supposed to know everything.
But a conspiracy of silence — involving colleagues, students and friends — worked this week. When Meghan Ward walked into the Pathways suite at Staples High School yesterday, she had no idea a mural would be unveiled in her honor.
Ward — an assistant principal — heads to a new job soon: principal of John Read Middle School in Redding. In her 5 years at Staples, she’s earned respect and admiration — and changed countless lives — as, among other things, Pathways supervisor.
That’s the “school within a school” offering alternative educational opportunities for students experiencing academic, behavioral and/or life challenges in the traditional setting.
The 4 Pathways teachers work closely with small groups of students. They wanted to honor the woman who helped create the program, then championed it in every setting.
They asked students what would be meaningful to them. Their idea: a bright, evocative mural.
“Meghan had a vision for how Pathways could run,” says English instructor Ann Neary.
“She imagined how students could engage in school, and what their possibilities could be. She supported teachers’ ideas, met with us weekly, sent us for trainings, and advocated for what we need to make this program work.”
Student Charlotte D’Anna sketched the design. Students voted for the concept. Principal Stafford Thomas okayed painting a classroom wall. Art instructor Tracy Wright helped Neary understand all about mural paints and brushes.
Then the students went to work. They loved what they were doing — and it showed.
Alicia D’Anna — a Staples Players parent and professional set designer — organized and managed the process. Her eldest child Sami graduated from Pathways last year.
That alumni connection was evident yesterday when Ward walked in, was moved to tears by the mural — and saw nearly a dozen Pathways alum on hand too.
Meghan Ward created a pathway to success for a number of Staples students. Her work will be remembered for years — thanks to a mural that now graces a Pathways wall.