On June 8, SoCoNews sat down virtually with new West Side School Principal and Superintendent Rima Meechan for a Q&A and to learn about her new role.
The West Side Union School District Board of Trustees announced on April 29 that they reached an agreement to hire Meechan, who is currently the assistant director at Credo High School, as West Side’s new principal and superintendent.
Current West Side Principal and Superintendent Kris Menlove will be departing West Side to move closer to her son and daughter-in-law in anticipation of becoming a first-time grandparent.
On July 1, her first day, Meechan will join the staff at West Side as the new principal and superintendent of the K-6 school.
Meechan was selected for the role after a series of interviews and an interview with a panel of community members. Input on the superintendent/principal selection was also garnered from a community survey that was given to staff and community stakeholders.
Meechan, who has been a longtime educator, was born in Nova Scotia, Canada and lived in South America and England before moving to California, which has been her home for the past 25 years.
SoCoNews (SCN): What drew you to West Side?
Meechan: It is so exciting. My best friend, whom I’ve worked with at Sheppard Elementary, saw the job description and she called me and said, ‘The perfect job has just been written for you.’ I said ‘I’m not looking, but you sound excited’ and she sent me the job description so and I read it and it seemed like such a sweet school and as I read the description I said this sounds perfect and I was the superintendent principal up in Ukiah for a K-8, so I’m familiar with that age group and I said I’d go for it.
One of the reasons I came to Credo was I had the K-8 waldorf experience and I wondered what the rest of their journey looks like ... and so it worked out and I was here (at Credo) for two years and then I did miss my little ones. I love the highschoolers, they're just different and the students here are so respectful and sweet, but I do miss the younger ones, I miss the elementary. She (Meechan’s friend) said maybe that’s your passion and I said yes I think it is.
SCN: How do you plan on making the transition from Credo High to the West Side position?
Meechan: I’m going to the sixth grade graduation this evening at West Side because I want to see their traditions and what they do but also to be introduced to parents. They will introduce me there and I will say ‘hello’ to everybody, and I look forward to getting to know everybody and wish the graduates well. On July 1, I am going to send an email saying I’m here officially and please come by and meet me if you’re in the area. I also asked them for a copy of the yearbook so I can get to know the kid’s names. That’s always key with children, they want to be seen and heard. It’s very magical for them when they’re seen.
SCN: How did you get into the world of education?
Meechan: My parents are both educators. My dad worked at the University of Guyana in South America and was a professor at the university there and was a marine biologist. My mom taught high school history and English in Guyana and so I am from an education family. My dad was also a principal at a high school before he started teaching at the university, so education is in my blood. I have my master’s degree in counseling and before I applied for that program I visited an elementary school and shadowed at an elementary school in Santa Rosa and I fell in love with it. That’s how I entered education, not through teaching, but through counseling.”
Then I was at the Roseland district as the school counselor once I got my master’s in counseling. I was there for 11 years and then that led to administration and then I also taught at Sonoma State at their graduate program there. It’s mostly about the children, they definitely feel me with joy and passion.
SCN: What do you like about working in administration?
Meechan: I’m not a typical administrator. I don’t like to be in my office all the time, I like to be outside at recess with the students and even with the highschoolers I walk out and say, ‘hey how’re you doing,’ just because to me I can do the office stuff anytime. I’d rather do that on a weekend instead of during the day when I can be with students … and the staff. I can’t leave the staff out. I’ve been very blessed in every place I’ve worked to have amazing staff and I have really great community involvement in all of my schools. I’m a parent, and I think a parent who is involved I think they have that right and I feel like they should because they love their child and making sure they’re getting the best they can. I would do the same.