Rayven Calloway reflects on 1st year as West St. John principal

Published 12:16 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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EDGARD — Rayven Calloway has known she wanted to be an educator from the time she was a little girl playing school with her stuffed animals. Her passion for helping others learn guided her as she worked her way up from English teacher to instructional coach, assistant principal, elementary principal, and finally to a high school principal position.

Calloway recently closed out her first year as principal of West St. John High School. Now that she has become immersed in the family atmosphere sewn into the fabric of the school and the surrounding community, Calloway knows she’ll always bleed black and blue.

It was especially rewarding for her to see the Class of 2023 commit to college and career plans before finally walking across the stage.

“I’m looking to establish stability at West St. John. These children have become my children. We’re family. It is very personal looking at them and seeing that they are about to start the next chapter in life, and looking at the things I’ve put in place to help get them there,” Calloway said. “At the elementary level, you’re teaching them how to read, and then you realize at the high school level that you finally see the fruition of all that preparation. That’s what my entire career is based on.”

According to Calloway, every program put in place at the school feeds into a mission of college and career readiness. Dual enrollment classes are offered, allowing students to potentially begin college with enough credits to be classified as a sophomore. Calloway has emphasized the importance of ACT preparation and scheduling, whether a student plans to attend college on a four-year or two-year track. She has also focused on helping students access scholarships so they can pursue higher education without becoming inundated with debt.

On the academic front, Calloway wants to ensure West St. John’s curriculum is as rigorous as what students will encounter in college.

“We worked very hard this year on teaching, instruction and curriculum,” Calloway said. “We brought an intervention block in to try to recoup the gap we experienced from COVID and from Hurricane Ida. We had tutoring after school where we provided a meal and transportation, and teachers stayed after school hours. Next year, we are hoping to have Saturday school. The superintendent is working on revamping and bringing in an ACT program to all of the schools.”

Several partnerships have been recently established. In addition to connections with River Parishes Community College, West St. John offers a JumpStart/Career and Technical Education program that provides specialized training to prepare students for the workforce in fields such as welding or computer science. In some cases, students are able to earn certifications while still in high school.

Calloway has been in communication with groups including Greenfield Louisiana, Rotary Club of LaPlace, the St. John Sheriff’s Office, the West St. John Civic Association and the West St. John Alumni Association, all of which have expressed interest in supporting the school. Kiwanis Club of Tri Parishes has also been actively involved by coming into the school to teach students who to prepare resumes and dress for job interviews.

“I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built with the community, with my students and their families, and with stakeholders,” Calloway said. “This is a community school, and as principal, you cannot sit behind your desk and keep your door shut. You have to be on the ground with the people, hearing what they want for their children.”