Principal, Relationship Builder, and Avid Traveler
by Melissa LaScaleia
Introduce me to your family.
My mom is eighty-eight years old, and my dad is eighty-nine, and both live here in Myrtle Beach in a retirement community. I have a sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews that live in Columbia, SC. I love spending time with them.
Where are all the places you came from? What area of the Grand Strand do you now call home?
I grew up in Wallace, SC. I lived in Johnson City, TN before moving back to SC in 1990. Today I live in the Burning Ridge Community.
Tell me about your background. What do you do in Myrtle Beach for a career?
I’ve been in the education field for over thirty-two years. I went to Lander University and played basketball and softball on scholarship, and received my graduate degree at East Tennessee State University. I got my master’s degree in administration from the University of South Carolina. I taught at Conway High from 1990 to 1997. In 2007, I became assistant principal, then principal in 2011, and I’ve been working in that capacity ever since.
Tell me about your students, the community culture, and how Covid has affected your school.
We have about 2600 students. And I always get compliments on them and their behavior. I’m genuinely proud of them as a whole in how they present themselves. Our parents and our community are supportive of the programs we offer; we have a great performing arts program, and stellar academics and athletics.
I have around 280 staff, and over 150 teachers. There are five elementary schools and three middle schools. We plan events together such as the homecoming parade. We continue to try and build a strong culture within our attendance area schools. I love working with the feeder schools and their principals.
The teachers have done a phenomenal job of not only providing instruction in the classroom to make sure students didn’t fall behind during Covid, but also found innovative ways to make sure our students could stay active in extracurricular activities. I feel there’s been a lot of flexibility and innovative thinking to provide students with the best environment possible given what we’ve been going through with Covid.
We’ve received several awards in the midst of all this. It’s because of how well the students have worked through adversity, and the teachers not lowering expectations just because we’re going through a pandemic. We all expected a lot of ourselves, and I couldn’t do the things I do without the staff I have around me. What we do at CFHS is a team effort. I am very proud of our teachers, staff, and administrators; I wouldn’t want to do this job with anyone else.
What is your favorite place in this area?
I love boating and playing golf. I really enjoy the simplicity of being outdoors and at the beach, spending time with my family and friends. Covid has reminded me that the things that are the most important to me are those relationships that you build with others, and what you can build when you work together. And outside of work, the relationships that I build with my family and friends, and how that pushes me to grow as a person.
What do you like the most about living here?
It’s such a diverse county. You can go to the western part and be in the countryside, or head east and be at the beach. The Grand Strand and surrounding areas have a lot to offer.
I appreciate the diversity of the student body in Carolina Forest. Being able to see them learn and grow everyday— developing into the best versions of themselves— that’s what’s most exciting for me.