Who Is LaNessa West?

By Aadam Samee

“I don’t know that I would say that any day is normal! My schedule is really never the same,” says LaNessa West, the Chair of Academic Services in the Lower School. She has taught since 1996, although her “undergraduate degree is in journalism with a concentration in public relations.” She is a valuable resource in the Lower School for children who need aid in their school work. “I enjoy discovering what a child needs to be successful. It is my responsibility to meet them ‘where they are,’ then provide support to help them move forward,” she says.

West has two children in the Upper School. Her son Nathan (’19) says, “She works hard and she makes time for each individual student.” Both Nathan and his sister Nadia (’21) have had experiences involving West’s job that have heightened their respect for her and her work in the Lower School. West is known throughout Collegiate and is highly respected. She is passionate in her job but also spends time with her family: “She makes time for her children despite being busy with work,” Nathan said. “My mother finds time for everyone and is always willing to listen.”

“I have the best mother in the world,” says Nathan. Everyone around her adores her charisma and energy. West is an impactful teacher at Collegiate, and she is one of the many individuals who contribute to Lower Schoolers’ success. 

Photo courtesy of LaNessa West.

West was not originally planning on going into teaching. It was supposed to be something she could “fall back on,” and her “passion for teaching language arts continued to grow. I was especially drawn to students who needed some extra support with learning to read.”

West’s schedule changes every day, and her “days are filled with meetings to determine how to support individual students or all of our students JK-4, working with whole group or small groups of students, reflecting on best teaching practices and/or collaborating with colleagues, planning professional development, collecting and analyzing student assessments… and the list goes on and on!”

As West is the Chair of Academic Services, people may believe that she works with a select few students; but this is not the case. She says she feels like she works “with all of our students in the Lower School. I usually describe myself as the ‘point guard’ for teachers, parents, and outside professionals to ensure that the right people and the right support are provided to our students at the right time.” Like a point guard on the basketball court, West helps drive the team and is expected to help the team succeed.

A former student of West’s and current Collegiate junior, Sky Song (’19), had positive experiences working with her. He expressed that she was “one of, if not my favorite, teacher ever,” and when asked why, he says, “she is compassionate and understanding. She’s just a person who really cares about her job and her students.” His favorite part about her teaching is that she “really takes the time to listen to everyone she works with and teaches. She has an open mind and is always willing to help.” Song says, “she is just a great teacher.”

About the author

Aadam Samee is a junior at Collegiate.