West Valley High School welcomes new principal Shannyn Cahoon
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
For any school, a change of leadership can mean a lot of uncertainty. Thankfully for the students of West Valley High School, their new principal totally gets this and is ready to show what she brings to the table by word and deed. The new principal is Ms. Shannyn Cahoon.
“This is a fun and exciting experience,” says Cahoon. “So far, the kids have been great, the staff has been great, the community experience has been great… I’m having fun! I’m looking forward to all that this year has to offer.”
Like many who come from outside the valley to teach here, Cahoon was introduced to the San Jacinto Valley by the wonder of EdJoin: “I’ve heard a lot of great things about Hemet Unified; I know quite a few people who graduated from West Valley High School and they had nothing but good things to say about their experience. We have a progressive school board that is student-centered and leads from their heart and they still have their ‘teacher heart’, which is important for me because I still have my teacher heart and I think that’s what makes us do the job in the best way because we’re always going to look at what’s best for students.”
Born in Orange County in 1980, Cahoon spent a portion of her childhood living in New Jersey before moving to the Inland Empire. “When we finally settled down in the Inland Empire, there really wasn’t a reason to leave.”
Cahoon attended Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, where she graduated in 1997 at the age of 16. Cahoon also attended UC Riverside, where she earned her Bachelor’s in English with a minor in History. There, she also completed her Master’s of Education before going for her second Masters in Education Administration at Cal State San Bernardino.
Cahoon currently lives in Murrieta, is married to a fellow educator, and has three children, a daughter who graduated from Vista Murrieta and is now attending Cal State Channel Islands, a son who is currently in third grade and a four year old son in TK.
Cahoon’s goals as principal at West Valley include improving student achievement in English-Language Arts and Mathematics, building on West Valley’s relatively new but rich school culture and improving community perception. “West Valley has such a deep cultural history…it’s on the uptick right now, but my goal is to see kids super-excited about being at West Valley all the time, wearing their maroon and gray.”
One past West Valley feature Cahoon wants to bring back is the ‘Mustang Maniacs’, a program designed to enhance school spirit at West Valley.
Cahoon also believes students need to learn how, and when, to fail…and learn from it. “That’s where grit comes from, and that’s where success comes from is not getting down but taking that and turning that into a positive. Even when things seem impossible, get yourself right back up and keep pushing on!”
Principals from around the San Jacinto Valley welcome Cahoon and offer her the following advice:
Eric Dahlstrom of Tahquitz encourages getting to know her fellow Mustangs: “I have met Shannyn she has already proven to be an excellent team mate. She is highly intelligent and thoughtful in her approach. My advice would be to build relationship with staff and students and get to know the culture of the school and community.”
Dr. Emily Shaw of Hemet High takes this tip a step further: “Everything goes back to relationships— take time to build them. Build them with parents, staff, students and community. Positive relationships makes the difference in everything you do, they are the the key to having a positive impact on the students we serve.”
Luke Smith of San Jacinto encourages her to keep her school’s eyes on the prize: “The principalship is an awesome tool to make positive change and to make an impact on lives: use it for that purpose to your utmost ability. Build a culture of teamwork and camaraderie with your staff based around that purpose and you can’t go wrong.”
Cahoon has already started on all of these points. “Right now my goal is to get ‘face time’ with everyone, so right now I’m meeting with all of the coordinators, all of our department chairs, all of the leads on campus… And my goal is to get into all of the classrooms in the near future, and just kind of put a face with a name. Being out in the classrooms is important to me, I like sitting with the students and seeing things from their perspective.”
As far as the local environment goes, for Cahoon it’s a real treat coming in every morning. “There’s nothing better than driving in and seeing the sun come up over the horizon. It’s absolutely beautiful seeing the cows grazing as I drive up Winchester. Our stadium is amazing, the sunset that you see from our press box…you can’t ask for a more beautiful, picturesque environment to work from.”
One last thing Cahoon wants the community to know is they should keep watching West Valley grow. “There’s great things to come here, and every day really is a great day to be a Mustang!”