Alumni Spotlight


Leann Arthur

Leann Arthur is a 2006 graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, she received a B.S. in Journalism from West Virginia University and a Certificate in Storytelling and Content Strategy from the University of Washington, Seattle. Leann currently works as an Art  Director for Rotary International.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Leann said “I live in Chicago and am an art director at a global non-profit, where I produce photo shoots and work with local freelancers from all over the world. This winter, I will be starting a graphic design certificate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In my spare time, I like to bike, spend time with my dog, and hang out along Lake Michigan.”

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Leann said “At Capital High School, I got to be creative every day, which established in me a sense of discipline and curiosity about the world. My favorite KCS teachers were all of my arts teachers--dance, theater, and studio art.”

Leann also has some advice for current students, “Don't panic if you don't have everything figured out yet. Sometimes the road isn't clearly marked, so try to use uncertainty to your advantage by trying a bunch of different things you're interested in. If you can get comfortable being uncomfortable, that's when real growth will happen.


Megan Fernandez

Megan Fernandez is a 2006 graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, she received an Associate Degree in Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Master of Science in Nursing. Megan is also an ANCC Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. She currently works as a Family Nurse Practitioner for WV Primary Care.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Megan said “I have been a nurse for nearly 11 years. I first worked at Thomas Memorial Hospital for 7 years as a nurse extern and then as an RN in the Intensive Care Unit. I have obtained three nursing degrees. I hold an Associates of Applied Science in nursing from Kanawha Valley CTC (now Bridge Valley CTC), a Bachelor of Science of Nursing, and a Master of Science of Nursing from WVU.”

She continued, “After obtaining my master’s degree I became an ANCC Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. I worked at a private neurology practice for two years. I now work in primary care and have been there almost three years. Aside from work I have three children, a son and two daughters ages 14, 9, and 3. I also enjoy gardening, and raising my 30 + chickens.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Megan said “My time at Capital allowed me to explore many different avenues of interest. I was able to participate in different band ensembles, working with the show choir, forensics team, SCORES competitions, foreign language AP and Dual Credit classes. That helped me to grow and figure out what I was interested in.”

She continued, “The most valuable education that I will always treasure came from Mr. Bob Scott, who taught us far more than music. He taught us to work hard, present yourself in an honorable manner, believe in yourself, practice how you want to perform, and keep your head high. He believed in us so deeply that you truly felt it.”

Megan also has some advice for current students, “There is no shame in asking for help as often as you need it. No matter who you are or your background you are just as valuable as anyone else. Never be afraid to peruse your true passions even if you have to start over to do so.” She continued, “Without good attendance you cannot have consistency. Consistency and repetition help to master any task no matter if it’s music, math, science, or athletics.”


Tanya Fryson

Tanya Fryson is a 2004 graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, she received a Bachelor of Arts in History from West Virginia State University, Master of Education in Early Childhood Education, and Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She currently works as a Special Education Teacher at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Tanya said “I was born in Manila, Philippines. My family and I immigrated to Charleston, West Virginia in 1993. I am currently living in Institute, West Virginia with my husband, Dave and daughter, Malaya. Morris Memorial Enrichment Center became my starting ground with my love for children in 2001. I first started working as a teacher’s aide then I eventually became the lead summer counselor for the School Age Summer Program until 2009. I have worked with all age groups throughout my career from infants to high school students.”

“In 2009, I graduated summa cum laude at West Virginia Community & Technical College where I earned an Associate of Art. Then in 2010, I graduated summa cum laude at West Virginia State University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in History. After college, I worked as an administrative assistant for West Virginia State University TRIO Upward Bound Program. I am also the former director of the Latchkey After School and Summer Safari Program for Forrest Burdette Children Outreach Ministries from January to October 2012."

She continued, “Then from November 2012 to August 2015, I was an Early Childhood Teacher at Sacred Heart Early Learning Center. I earned my Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from Grand Canyon University in December 2015 and finished my Graduate Certification in Autism Spectrum Disorder from Robert Morris University in 2017.”

“I proudly served as the Teacher of Autism for two years, and two years as Multi-Categorical Resource Teacher at Ruffner Elementary School from 2016 to 2020. I left the Kanawha County Schools District for a year and taught at Accotink Academy Therapeutic Day School in Springfield, Virginia as an Elementary Special Education Teacher. I am so ecstatic to be back as the Intellectual Disabilities Teacher at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School! THE WEST SIDE IS BEST SIDE!”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Tanya said “I attended Chamberlain Elementary School. The administrators and staff prepared me to be a goal achiever in life. I am most grateful for Principal Nancy Phister who instilled the importance of hard work in academics, perseverance, and shed positivity and kindness to all students. I am also grateful for my teachers, Regina Bradford and Patricia Schillings. Mrs. Bradford taught me compassion and kindness towards others. She made me smile and inspired me to be a teacher. Mrs. Schillings taught me math analytic skills that I continue to use in my life and as an educator. I also attended Horace Mann Junior High School. I am thankful to Mrs. Jeremy Knight who taught me creative writing. I feel she gave the skills I needed to be a great writer today.”

Tanya also has some advice for current students, “Focus on progress, not perfection. If you focus on perfection, you will set yourself up to be disappointed. You may even lose your drive to be motivated. Instead, focus on progression and you come to realize that getting better is its own reward.” She continued, “Good attendance is important in achieving academic success!”


Traci Gibson

Traci Gibson is a 2013 graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, she attended West Virginia University where she received a B.S. in Child Development and Family Studies with an endorsement in Preschool Education and Preschool Special Needs and a M.A. in Special Education - Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education. Traci currently works for Kanawha County Schools as a Preschool Special Needs Teacher at Edgewood Elementary.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Traci said “After graduating from WVU in the spring of 2017, I started my first teaching job at Edgewood Elementary. During this time, I also began coaching soccer at Horace Mann Middle School (my former middle school alma mater). After two years of coaching at Horace Mann, I moved up to my high school alma mater, Capital High School, to become the head coach for the girls soccer team.”

She continued, “I am a former player for the CHS girls soccer team. I just wrapped up my third season at Capital and I enjoy being on the other side of the game of soccer and helping players love the game like I did, along with working with my fellow coaches. I am finishing up my fifth year as a preschool special needs teacher at Edgewood Elementary. It’s the only place I have called home during my teaching career because it feels like home.

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Traci said “Kanawha County Schools has prepared me for life after graduation and I feel like that started in kindergarten, where my teachers taught the foundational skills I would carry through the rest of my life.

I was fortunate to have many impactful teachers. The class that sticks out the most is Mr. Vencill's Algebra 2 class in 9th grade. That class was a lot like a college class and taught me that a lot of things in life take work, but the outcome can be a great reward. One of his famous quotes was ‘Work beats talent when talent doesn’t work’.”

Traci also has some advice for current students, “Enjoy every moment. Life moves fast, especially in high school. You can be excited about your future, but don’t wish this time away, enjoy it!” She added, “As a teacher I see how attendance can greatly show student progress. When I look back, I rarely missed school and I am thankful for that because it played a key role in my long-term success post-graduation in both my undergraduate and graduate programs.”


Kathie Hess Crouse

Kathie Hess Crouse is a 1988 graduate of Charleston High School. After graduating from CHS, she received a Bachelor Degree in Biology and an Associate Degree in Science. Kathie currently serves as a member of the WV House of Delegates.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Kathie said “I am a former Microbiologist and mycologist. I have 5 children, and currently serve as a member of the WV House of Delegates.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Kathie said “KCS taught me to be resilient. I learned to stand up for myself and my beliefs. Some of my favorite teachers included Cynthia Eldridge and Mary Hill from Ruffner Elementary. At Roosevelt, I had Betsy Howard and at Charleston High I had Betty Jean Bailes. These women were amazing and helped shape me into who I am today.

Kathie also has some advice for current students, “Always be ready to learn. Never stop. Learn about the things you love. Learn about what you’re good at. And do what you love and what you’ve learned. You will be happy.”


Jordan Kirk

Jordan Kirk is a graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, he received a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration (Accounting) from Marshall University. Jordan currently works as the Chief Financial Officer for the School Building Authority of West Virginia.

When asked about his professional accomplishments, Jordan said “I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. I graduated in 2005 from Marshall University with my BBA in Accounting. After having a few jobs in the private sector, I was fortunate enough to begin a career in State Government for the WV State Auditor’s Office. My career began working with the Purchasing Card program in roles of Audit Inspections, Monitoring, and Customer Service. This experience set me up for a move to the WV State Agency for Surplus Property where I continue working with the Purchasing Card Program at an agency level, but I expanded my knowledge base into sales, budget, purchasing, and my first role that involved Management.”

He continued, “I left the state for an opportunity outside of state government where I determined that I liked the stability of government work above the public sector. I came back to the state for DHHR - Bureau for Public Health as the Purchasing Director, Purchasing Card Coordinator, Fixed Assets Manager, and several other roles. This position gave me a wealth of knowledge in several different roles. I was offered a position next with the WV Enterprise Resource Planning Board under the WV State Auditor’s Office where I worked as a Vendor/Customer Business Analyst. This was a position of being relied on to not only work through vendor projects but use my previous knowledge to help others answer questions related to the state’s financial system.”

“Finally, I reached my current position of Chief Financial Officer for the School Building Authority of WV. This position was a goal of mine as I entered state government. I have enjoyed this journey across state government, and I feel that the experience I have and am currently learning is invaluable to my future. Now, it is time to work on new goals and continue learning.”

When asked about how KCS prepared him for life after graduation, Jordan said “I began school at Grandview Elementary where my favorite teacher was Mrs. Knighton. She would always find a way to inspire us to have a love of learning from an early age. She spent her time making sure everyone was learning and pushed us to do our best.”

He continued, “I moved forward to Stonewall Jackson (now West Side Middle) where I began playing sports, and I learned so many new things. I finally went to Capital High School where I began moving my goals to a business perspective although I also enjoyed many of the electives available. My favorite teacher here was Ms. Martin. She would have long conversations with students and always had a joke or inspiring word for someone when they were feeling down. I am thankful for my time in KCS, and I believe this learning model helped me to be a better student in college and beyond.”

Jordan also has some advice for current students, “My advice to current students would be to find the things you love early, but don’t be afraid to change your mind while in school. Do what makes you happy. Never give up on your goals. I know it sounds cliche, but whatever you choose to do in life, set goals as a milestone to keep moving forward. Once you achieve your goal, done be satisfied. Set new ones. Always believe in yourself because you are the only one that matters. Encircle yourself with those who will push you to achieve goals rather than stay complacent.”

He added, “Attendance is so important. This sets the stage for the rest of your life. Those who usually don’t attend classes, or show up late, usually have the same work habits. Once you are into the workforce, things like this are expected. It is much harder to advance in the workplace for those who have attendance issues, so prepare yourself now. Attendance also becomes a little easier when you find the things you love so this k of that when preparing for college, or the career path that you choose. Select classes that you enjoy. Find yourself.”

He finished by saying, “I owe my success to my wife and three kids, my faith, and all of my schooling from elementary to college. As mentioned before, having those in your corner that believe in you is imperative. If you don’t feel like you have someone that believes in you, try shifting those around you. You can do this and good luck!”


Sarah Matics Ball

Sarah Matics Ball is a 2001 graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, she received a Bachelor of Science in Allied Medicine from Ohio State University. She is also a nationally certified Athletic Trainer, holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Ohio State, and is a licensed physical therapist. She currently works for St. Mary’s Home Health as a Physical Therapist.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Sarah said “I have worked as a physical therapist for 14 years. Thirteen of those years have been spent serving rural areas of West Virginia with Home Health Services for patients that are home-bound.

When asked about her favorite KCS teachers, Sarah said “Mrs. Kohl at Capital High School helped shape my career with her Anatomy and Physiology classes. I loved them and her! Mrs. Rastle at Capital High was another teacher that really cared about her students and likes to still in keep in touch today.”

Sarah also has some advice for current students, “You can do anything you put your mind to. Enjoy high school! They are truly some of the best times of your life. It only gets harder from there.”


Leah Payne

Leah Payne is a 1979 graduate of Charleston High School. After graduating from Charleston High, she received a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a M.A.J. in Journalism from Marshall University. Leah currently works as the Director of Communications for Marshall University.  

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Leah said “I am an experienced communicator with more than 30 years in radio, television, advertising and public relations. I've received several awards over the years for my writing and volunteerism, including the Barry Bingham Sr. Media Award for Excellence in reporting on mental health issues. I've served as a United Way of the River Cities Corporate Campaign member for multiple years and was a founding member of the Public Relations Society of America's River Cities Chapter.”

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Leah said “My time at Charleston High School in the late 1970s prepared me for what I like to call "real life." Just after the civil rights movement of the 60s, our school truly embraced diversity. We had economic, racial, religious, and cultural diversity that I think many other schools lacked at that time. I loved CHS because I thought it prepared me to get along well with others who are different from me. On an academic level, my English teachers instilled in me a life-long love of reading, writing and communications, which ultimately led to a successful career.”

Leah also has some advice for current students, “Don't let worry and uncertainty keep you from experiencing life. As Nike says, just do it!” She continued, “Good attendance is essential for excellence in just about everything. The classroom experience provides an environment where learning can blossom. In addition to "book" learning, attending class provides students the opportunity to building listening skills, note-taking skills, relational skills, etc., that are all important for the future.”


Janae Sherer

Janae Sherer is a 2001 graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, she received a B.S. in Nursing, RN, a M.S. in Nursing, MSN and is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. Janae currently works as a Nurse Practitioner for WVU Medicine.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Janae said “I have been working in nursing for 15 years. I currently work in the Preoperative Evaluation Center and have been there for almost 8 years.”

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Janae said “Kanawha County School courses required attendance, focus, and discipline. Daily assignments and tests were administered to evaluate understanding of course curriculum which prepared me for my collegiate experience.”

She continued, “My favorite teachers were Marty Burke and Lowell Harris. Marty often assisted with the HSTA students and coordinated our research presentations. Lowell often spoke with students about striving for excellence, working hard to achieve our goals, and utilizing our experience as a foundation to a successful future.”

Janae also has some advice for current students, “Always do your best. Your presence and dedication directly correlate to successful completion of course curriculum. Good attendance will most likely be required in a student’s profession of choice.


Sarah Stover

Sarah Stover is a 1998 graduate of Capital High School. After graduating from CHS, she received a B.A. in oral communication and Secondary Education. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education/Leadership Studies. Sarah currently works as the 6th grade English teacher a Horace Mann Middle School.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Sarah said “I have been a teacher in Kanawha County for 17 years.When asked about her favorite KCS teacher, Sarah said “Prior to 12th grade, I had never read an entire novel. I hated reading and would fake my way through any obligation to do so. I hated English period. Writing, grammar, all of it. Senior year I entered Gene Petry's English class, and on the first day of class he handed us our reading list. With every eye roll in me, I immediately started working on my game plan to get through the class.”

She continued, “However, Mr. Petry had this way of talking about every book he presented us as if they were going to be the most interesting event of my life. He was right. He had me so excited, so invested, that I was going to read every single word of that book. And I did. The first one, and all 11 others that followed. With each chapter came the most exciting, fun, need to have more, book talks that made me want to stay in that class for the whole day to keep going. It's how I approach reading with my students. I treat every single book like it is the most exciting event they will experience that year. I do this in the hope of maybe waking one student up the way Mr. Petry woke me up in his classroom at CHS.”

Sarah also has some advice for current students, “Enjoy every moment. Take every opportunity.” She added, “So much happens in a day. So much is lost when a student misses a day. When students miss school, they lose a piece of the puzzle. Without all the pieces, it becomes frustrating and difficult to finish the lesson, unit, chapter, or even the year. When a child becomes frustrated, they are more likely to give up or act out. Keeping our students in the classrooms ensure they have a fight opportunity to be successful.”


Shawn Vance-Carter

Shawn Vance-Carter is a 1989 graduate of Charleston High School. After graduating, she attended Garnet and West Virginia State University. Shawn currently works for Kanawha County Schools Community Education Program as a secretary.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Shawn said “I started out in 2010 as a substitute teacher assistant. In 2014 I started full-time at Ruffner Elementary, which is where I attended school! Fast forward to today and I am now the Secretary at the Raglin Center and in the Community Education office.

When asked about her favorite KCS memory, Shawn said “I can still remember Ms. Berkeley, the assistant I had in kindergarten. She was always so kind. I always try to make sure and repeat that with the students in my life. I am a firm believer if they enjoy school in the beginning years it will more than likely end that way.”

Shawn also has some advice for current students, “Kindness goes a long way, never give up!” She added, “Attendance is so important because it helps you grow daily.”