by John Steinberger | July 18, 2019 3:41 pm
West Ashley High School Principal Ryan Cumback has been at the helm since July 1. His predecessor Lee Runyon is planning the career center for the North Charleston high schools scheduled to open in Fall 2020. It has been a fast pace for Cumback, as he has been interviewing for the new position of full-time Athletic Director, as well as candidates for Guidance Director and several Assistant Principal positions. He previously served a history teacher and assistant principal at West Ashley, before serving as principal at Moultrie Middle School in Mt. Pleasant for the past three years.
Cumback listed campus safety and improved student discipline as his top priorities, along with supporting teachers and improving academic programs. Another goal is to upgrade eligibility and conduct standards for the school’s 600 student-athletes and upgrade the athletic facilities. Athletes will now have to score 70% or above in each of their classes to be able to compete. Practice times for all teams will be moved back so that athletes may participate in a study hall before practice. Cumback was a scholarship track athlete at Western Michigan University and believes that a strong athletic program benefits the overall quality of a school.
About 32 students from other high schools have enrolled at West Ashley since Cumback took the helm. The school has an enrollment of about 1700 and has the capacity for 2300. About 40% of the students in the West Ashley attendance area attend high school elsewhere, and Cumback is personally calling West Ashley families whose children attend James Island Charter High School, Charleston County School of the Arts, and others and asking them to take another look at West Ashley. He said, “If I can get a family in the building, I can sell them on West Ashley High School.” He plans to send student ambassadors to all elementary and middle schools in the West Ashley attendance area.
In the academic arena, Cumback wants to have more students enrolled in Advanced Placement, dual credit and honors courses. He wants to expand the credit recovery program (CATS) that he created as an assistant principal to boost the school’s graduation rate. He is also focused on maintaining the school’s successful Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs and expand business partners and internship/apprenticeship opportunities. In Fall 2021, the school will add a career center with high-demand programs, such as welding, automotive, and cybersecurity. Students are also receiving career information and starting pay for jobs which don’t require four-year college.
Cumback also wants to see West Ashley students more involved in the community. He plans to involve students in the culinary arts program, musicians and the robotics team at the weekly West Ashley Farmers Market. He said, “I want to showcase what we have to offer.”
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