LaNessa West is looking forward to starting her new job as Lower School director in July. She radiates a presence that is calm and purposeful and describes herself as diligent, intuitive, and reflective. Family is everything to her. An only child with lots of close cousins, she grew up in the small town of South Boston, Va. She draws her core values and beliefs from her mother and the other two strong women who helped raise her, her grandmother and her aunt. She and her husband, Nathaniel, will be celebrating 25 years together in December, and she feels her greatest accomplishment has been raising their children, Nathan and Nadia, who are students at Old Dominion University. LaNessa finds family life motivating, but has always had an innate, internal drive that moves her to try new things—but nothing too risky, crazy, or adventurous! As a young student LaNessa was a voracious reader, who loved writing and being part of the yearbook staff. Her passions propelled her to study journalism at Radford University, where she dreamed of writing for Essence magazine. As she faced graduation, her professors often mentioned how hard it would be to find a job. It made her so nervous, she decided to go to graduate school for teaching to have something to “fall back on.” After her first practicum experience in a kindergarten classroom, teaching shifted from her “fall back” to her future—she was hooked. For LaNessa, Lower School is the place to be! “It’s hard to have a bad day when you enter a classroom, where the joy is palpable and the children always have a story to share, a smile, or an impromptu hug to offer,” she says. LaNessa’s initial attraction to SSSAS was the mission statement and seeing the words “BE YOU” highlighted on the website. She finds the school’s commitment to amplifying “goodness as well as knowledge” particularly admirable. During her first visit, she felt wrapped in a sense of community that made her feel welcome and at ease. When she’s not working, LaNessa enjoys reading, listening to R&B and hip hop, binge watching a good series, and tapping into her creativity through scrapbooking, making wreaths and arranging flowers. Something many people don’t know about her is that she grew up singing in the school choir and her church. As a child LaNessa dreamed about what her first job would be, getting married, and having a family. A leader by nature, LaNessa joins our school in “a season of her life where success means finding some balance and being intentional about living her life with purpose, unbothered by what others think about her, doing what makes her happy and being all that God created her to be.”
What one piece of advice would you offer anyone who asks?
Be selective in your battles, sometimes peace is better than being right.
What is your most treasured memory?
I have a few, but the one that stands out to me is when my husband proposed to me over the intercom at one of my former schools. It was the last day shortly after the students had gone home for the summer.
If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Oprah Winfrey, especially during her “talk show days.” Meeting and interviewing celebrities and people who all have their own stories to share would be an epic adventure. Her wealth and all the perks that come with it would be great, too!
What is the best compliment someone can give you?
Letting me know that I serve as a mentor, friend, and/or confidant.
What in life makes you smile?
Warm, sunny days sitting on my porch, listening to the rain outside my window, and a beautiful autumn scene filled with red, yellow, orange, and brown leaves on the trees…
What is the one place in the world you would like to escape to and why?
Going to Italy is on my bucket list because it seems to have so many wonderful things to experience – the culture, the history, and THE FOOD!!!!