Insight into Mountain Vista High School Principal Michael Weaver’s perspective in light of COVID-19 and school re-openings.
There are a total of 2,389 students at Mountain Vista, each one of them known by name to principal Michael Weaver. It is not uncommon to see smiling principal Weaver, 2017 Administrator of the Year, floating around the halls, greeting the crowd of students bouncing from class to class.
Ever since Weaver’s start at Vista in 2011, he has served as a friendly face during all the twists and turns that come with being a high school principal. One of these twists was the advent of coronavirus and the challenges it created in returning to school.
“I personally was kind of looking at all the different possible ways that we would go back,” Weaver said. “ I just kind of started to look at each of the scenarios and [had] a strategic plan for each one.”
Weaver prioritized the wellbeing of all members of the Vista community, which was especially difficult due to the ever changing circumstances surrounding the virus.
“As weeks go by, things change on a daily basis,” Weaver said. “Having a foundational plan was semi-effective, but the things we thought about one day [were] applicable, and the next day they’re not.”
Classrooms, lunches and every other aspect of going to high school in 2020 became a hot topic as the school year neared, particularly in regards to what changes were made because of the virus.
“We started coming up with a thousand different questions and had at least answers under the protocols under social distancing and how to manage that in the most safe way,” Weaver said. “There are a lot of pieces, whether people are 100% in agreement with them or not, they have to understand that we are trying to make it work.”
COVID-19 has inconsequentially served as a new chapter of Weaver’s career and has provided him, along with the staff and student body, a surflux of emotions. He refers to the community as “pawns in the game,” and has been approaching this game with empathy and the ideology of keeping everyone’s best interest at heart.
“I’ve tried to find this balance without getting too emotionally involved in any specific aspect of it. It has challenged me. This is my 34th year [as an administrator], and I’ve never seen anything like this, and I think that in itself has created a change,” Weaver said. “I think that you have to be ready for things that you would have never anticipated, not just in education, but in life.”
As the face of Vista, Weaver carries a substantial amount of weight on his shoulders, but with COVID-19 added into this leadership role, it makes the task even more challenging. Feelings of stress have been extremely high, but Weaver maintains a positive attitude.
“We’ve established a trusting relationship between myself and our community over the years that I know that they think I’m trying to do the right thing,” Weaver said. “I’m so thankful that people are pretty understanding of where we are.”
As of now, Vista is on a hybrid schedule. The two cohorts rotate in and out of the building; some school days are filled with a pileup of browser tabs from every class, while others are filled with socially distanced classrooms and masks galore.
Moving forward. That’s what the majority of all the conversations, board meetings and decisions are aiming for. Although a normal school year is far from sight, Weaver has a word of advice for Vista’s students in each grade, advice addressing everyone’s slightly tinted high school experience.
“Freshman, hang on and be patient because the normal of [the] high school experience that all the other classes have had, [you haven’t]. The kids above you will show you the way once we get back to normal…
…Sophomores, [you] have a responsibility to step up and begin to lead in different ways that they may not understand or are ready for…
…Juniors, there’s a transition between remembering and knowing what it’s supposed to be like, but living this strange unique expectation. We fully believe that by the time they have an opportunity to lead, that they will remember what it’s supposed to be like…
…Seniors, nothing is going to look like what you had planned in your minds, and we understand that and we’ll do everything we can to try and give you guys experiences that are meaningful and make it special with no guarantees.”