Melissa DeWeese, Western Primary School principal

Melissa DeWeese

RUSSIAVILLE — Melissa DeWeese started her career 16 years ago as a first grade teacher at Western Primary School.

Now, she’s the principal.

DeWeese was approved as next principal of the primary school on Tuesday. She was most recently assistant principal at Western Middle School.

“Mrs. DeWeese brings a wealth of knowledge to the table,” Superintendent Katie Reckard said in a statement. “She stays current with research and is constantly looking for ways to improve student learning as well as the student and staff environment.”

DeWeese was also a fifth grade teacher and a technology integration specialist.

DeWeese said she offered support to staff at Western’s primary and intermediate schools in her technology position.

“Ever since I started my technology integration job and being in the classroom, supporting teachers, that’s when I knew I wanted to take more of a leadership role and be a principal,” DeWeese said.

DeWeese’s next step will be meeting with staff at the primary school to determine the focus of the next school year, but she already knows helping students catch up in the classroom after a year of interruptions will be front and center.

“Right now, this coming year is going to be filling in those gaps for all the COVID stuff and bridging that gap of learning,” DeWeese said.

Western had the highest ILEARN passing rates in English and math in the county, though school officials said scores weren’t as high as they hoped.

Statewide ILEARN results show the impact the pandemic had on learning. State officials have said it will take more than one school year to get kids caught up.

DeWeese replaces Jenna Moree, who took a different job out of district.

“I just love it here, and I’m excited to get started over there,” DeWeese said.

Tuesday also marked the first school board meeting with Reckard, who was named superintendent in April. She began her new post on July 1, following the retirement Randy McCracken.

A news release said Western will conduct a search for its next middle school assistant superintendent.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.

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