Janna Coleman is a 1994 graduate of Capital High School. She also attended Grandview Elementary and Roosevelt Jr. High. Janna holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from West Virginia University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Principalship certification from Marshall University. Currently, she is working toward her Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction from Marshall University. Janna currently works as a Community in Schools Liaison for Kanawha County Schools.  

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Janna said “I was a chemistry teacher at South Charleston High for six years before pursuing my goal of being an administrator. I was an assistant principal at Valley High for two years and then an elementary principal for six years at Gauley Bridge Elementary. The closure of my school in June 2022 gave me an opportunity to return to ‘my first love,’ Kanawha County Schools. I now work as a Community in Schools Liaison within my neighborhood. Working in the neighborhood where you live is one of the most rewarding experiences I am having after twenty years in education.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Janna said “My mother taught in Kanawha County for over forty years. Her dedication to the teaching profession exemplified the importance of hard work. Although she is my most important teacher, there were teachers throughout my education in Charleston that prepared me and my siblings for life after graduation. Teachers emphasized the importance of learning and commitment to lifelong learning after graduation”

Janna also has some advice for current students, “Your path after high school may look different than someone else's. And that's okay! After graduating from college, I worked in an environmental lab for two years testing wastewater. I realized that was not what I wanted to do forever. I started as a substitute teacher and then went back to school to obtain my MAT. My path was different than other teachers, but it gave me skills that prepared me for the education profession.

She continued, “Good attendance is the biggest key to student success. Poor attendance is similar to coming to a movie thirty minutes late and hoping you can grasp the plot and storyline. Sometimes you may get the plot, but often you are playing catch up. Why take the chance? You can ensure that you are more likely to have success if you have an opportunity to watch the entire movie.”


Elissa Devitt is a 2001 graduate of Capital High School. She also attended Chamberlain Elementary and Horace Mann Middle School. Elissa a RBA from WV State University. Elissa currently works as an Autism Mentor for Kanawha County Schools.

When asked about herhis professional accomplishments, Elissa said “I dreamed of being the director of a child care center. By age 28 I had accomplished this dream. I became a Foster/Adoptive stay at home mom 2 years later.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Elissa said “Many amazing teachers over the years pushed me to my always do better.

Elissa also has some advice for current students, “Believe in yourself!


Allen Duff is a 1995 graduate of Capital High School. He also attended J.E. Robbins Elementary and Stonewall Jackson Jr. High. Allen holds B.S. in Business Management. He currently works as an Accounting Applications Specialist for Spilman, Thomas and Battle, PLLC.

When asked about his professional accomplishments, Allen said “I currently serve as Cub Master for Pack 38 and Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 38. I am a recipient of the Chief Cornstalk District Award of Merit. I conduct monthly Sunday services at First Advent Christian Church and New Hope Advent Christian Church in Charleston.”

When asked how KCS prepared him for life after graduation, Allen said “The extracurricular activities provided during my time at Capital gave me the confidence to be involved in different clubs and groups in college. Being involved gave me the opportunity to make new friends and to serve the community that support the college.

Allen also has some advice for current students, “There is no substitute for real world life experience.

Allen finished by saying, “If you are not at school, then you will miss something. I went preschool through my senior of college without missing one day of class. Be active and involved. Giving a piece of yourself to those younger and older than you is valuable. It keeps you centered and reveals how blessed your life is.”


Grace Fisher is a 2015 graduate of Capital High School. She also attended Kanawha City Elementary and Horace Mann Middle School. Grace holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Charleston. She currently works as a second grade teacher at Chamberlain Elementary.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Grace said “After graduating from Capital I attended the University of Charleston graduating in 2019. I live with my husband Taylor and our 1-year-old pup Ellie.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Grace said “KCS prepared me for life after graduation by teaching me how the set expectations and goals for myself. Being a part of student council and dance company at Capital taught me about community, how to support each other, and how to work together to create something.”

Grace also has some advice for current students, “A quote that I have always tried to live by, being a student and a teacher, is 'At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.'” She finished by saying, “With regularly attendance students learn more, have less discipline problems, and develop study habits that set them for up success.”


Taylor Huddleston is a 2017 graduate of Capital High School. She also attended Malden Elementary, Mary Ingles Elementary and DuPont Middle. Taylor holds a B.A. in Journalism (Broadcast emphasis) from Marshall University and a M.S. in Digital Marketing Communications from West Virginia University. She currently works as the Assistant Director of Marketing (Digital) for University of Pittsburgh Athletics.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Taylor said “I started at Pitt in October 2022 after living in Tallahassee, Florida for one year working with the Florida State University Athletic Department as a Marketing Assistant. My professional goals include working and growing my skill set in collegiate athletics from a marketing and communications standpoint, with the hopes of moving into the professional sports world.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Taylor said “There aren’t enough words I can say to describe how Kanawha County Schools prepared me for life after graduation. I entered the school system as a little girl with big dreams and goals, and exited as a young woman ready to take on the world with confidence, respect, and determination. I can’t thank each teacher and staff member I have worked with over the years enough for shaping me into the woman I am today. Without Kanawha County Schools, I would not be in the position I am today.”


Taylor also has some advice for current students, “My biggest piece of advice is to get involved, stay active, and be open to change. Join that club, sport, class, etc. you are really interested in because it may just open the door for an opportunity you didn’t see coming! Be active in your school, your community, voice what’s important and what we can do to make each other better. Be open to change. The world we live in changes every day, so being ready to move quickly and adapt to a new environment makes a huge difference. You never know what this world may offer us!

She continued, “Good attendance is important in student success. If you’re not in school, you miss out on not only scholar opportunities, but social environments. If you’re present in school, you’re gaining that necessary knowledge to have a successful education, along with making those friendships, connections, and overall support who you can rely on going into the future. Go to that dance. Go to that football game. Make those connections. Enjoy yourself while taking advantage of those learning opportunities!


Ashleigh Johnson is a 2016 graduate of Capital High School. She also attended Dunbar Primary/Intermediate and Dunbar Middle School. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.Ed in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. Ashleigh is currently a full-time student at Penn State University, where she also works as a part-time disability specialist (graduate assistant) at Student Disability Resources.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Ashleigh said “I graduated from Ohio University in May of 2020 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in history. I earned a master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling from one of the top CACREP accredited programs in the United States at The Pennsylvania State University in May of 2022. I am currently continuing at Penn State as a first-year doctoral student studying Counselor Education and Supervision.”

She continued, “I’ve most recently become a recipient of the Edwin L. Herr Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to full-time doctoral students in Counselor Education who have the primary goal of becoming an academician. I served as co-president of the Rho Alpha Mu chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (International counseling honor society). I have the aspirations to continue bringing attention to issues of inequity in the mental health field and explore ways to training culturally responsive mental health counselors.

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Ashleigh said “I was very fortunate to be involved in the performing arts during my years in KCS at Dunbar Middle and Capital High School. These experiences helped me develop a strong work ethic, learn to manage my time, and explore my strengths. I was also involved in HSTA which gave me early exposure to research prior to entering college. I had great educators who helped me develop critical thinking skills that have been useful and essential in my areas of study.”

Ashleigh also has some advice for current students, “Try your best to get involved at school, ask your teachers questions, and don’t be afraid to be different from your peers. Being yourself is more than enough! Showing up is half the battle and exposure to learning is transformative!”

She finished by saying, “I want to express my gratitude to the educators I had the opportunity to learn from at Dunbar Primary, Dunbar Middle, and Capital High.”


Elliott Mihelic is a 2014 graduate of Capital High School. He also attended Belle Elementary and DuPont Middle School. Elliott holds a B.M.E. in Music Education from Alderson Broaddus University and a M.M. in Brass Performance with an emphasis in Pedagogy from Ohio University. He is currently pursuing a D.M.A. in Horn Performance from Michigan State University, and is defending his dissertation in February 2023. Elliott works as a substitute teacher for Hampshire County Schools and serves as a substitute horn player for the WV Symphony Orchestra.

When asked about his professional accomplishments, Elliott said “I got married in 2021 and returned to WV in 2022 to be with my wife after spending two years in Michigan for school. For career accomplishments, I have played with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and Jackson Symphony Orchestra as a substitute horn in Michigan. I have served as an adjunct professor at two colleges during my time in Michigan, as well as taught private horn lessons to students ranging from 6th grade through adult. I currently play as a substitute horn with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and substitute teach in Hampshire County. I also volunteer with the Hampshire High School Band.”

He continued, “I will be defending my dissertation this February and earning my doctorate in horn performance. I am currently applying for college teaching positions and hope to gain employment within the next year. For my work, I enjoy researching and developing horn methods for descant and triple horn, composing and arranging, researching the history of the horn Morceau de Concours of the Paris Conservatoire, instrument repair and maintenance, and teaching students of all ages for both horn and other instruments.”

When asked how KCS prepared him for life after graduation, Elliott said “I was fortunate to have supportive and talented teachers throughout my time as a student in Kanawha County. I was able to push myself musically and academically by performing with the different ensembles in middle school and high school, along with taking advantage of the honors, AP, and elective classes that suited my career choice.

Elliott also has some advice for current students, “There are three rules to life, and I remind my students of them each day. Remember, always: 1. Be Safe, 2. Be Kind, 3. Be a Good Sport. Remember to take care of yourself and others by making good choices. One of the best choices you can make is being kind to others. Kindness is something that is always needed in the world, no matter how old you get.”

He continued, “Unfortunately, life can sometimes treat you the opposite. Life is not fair, so it is up to you to make a difference by making good choices and showing kindness, despite any adversities you face. Even if others choose to be poor sports, you can be proud of your decision to make something of your situations and inspire others to do the same.

Elliott finished by saying, “Your success depends on you. Teachers can open doors for you, but you have to take the initiative to get yourself through them. Attendance is only one door of receiving an education, so take your steps through it. Otherwise, if you wait too long and that door closes, you’ll miss out on what is on the other side.”


Eliot Parker is a 1998 graduate of Capital High School. He also attended J.E. Robbins Elementary and Stonewall Jackson Jr. High. Eliot holds a B.A. in Journalism from Marshall University, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University, and a Doctorate in English from Murray State University. He currently works as an Instructor of Writing at the University of Mississippi.

Eliot has several professional accomplishments. He is the author of the thriller novel A FINAL CALL, named a Best Indie Book to Discover in 2022 by Kirkus Magazine and an honorable mention in thriller writing at the London Book Festival. His short story collection SNAPSHOTS, won the 2020 PenCraft Literary Award and the 2021 Feathered Quill Book Award for Short Story Anthology. His thriller novel, A KNIFE'S EDGE, was an Amazon #1 bestseller. Eliot has received the West Virginia Literary Merit Award for his works and has also been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize in Thriller Writing in 2017 for his novel FRAGILE BRILLIANCE.

He hosts the podcast program, Now Appalachia on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network, which profiles authors, editors, and publishers in the Appalachian region. Eliot is also host of the Booktube/Youtube channel titled "Page Break" which reviews books and interviews authors.

Eliot is a former English professor at Marshall University and Mountwest Community and Technical College, where he won the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award in 2017.

When asked how KCS prepared him for life after graduation, Eliot said “Kanawha County Schools provided me clear benefits and preparation for college and professional life after graduation. As a student, I gained various high-level skills that were reinforced throughout my experiences. My education in Kanawha County Schools helped me develop and improve my writing while increasing my critical thinking abilities. These skills became the essential habits that were required of me to compete and be successful in college and in a variety of professional environments.

Eliot also has some advice for current students, “Be open to different academic interests and pathways, give yourself the opportunity to succeed, learn from your mistakes and move forward, don't be afraid of technology, it's never too late to improve or change, give yourself the credit you deserve, don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness or being stupid.

Eliot finished by saying, “Attendance provides students with access to other contextual information, resources and relationships that can positively impact their knowledge and sense of belonging. Attending class sessions helps students to stay on track, understand expectations, foster important peer social interactions, and generally promote a sense of connectedness. Increasingly, attendance is placing all students on a path for student success.


Shannon Patrick is a 1994 graduate of Capital High School. He also attended Bluewell Elementary and Horace Mann Middle School. Shannon holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Currently, Shannon works as an Equal Employment Opportunity Manager for the Department of Defense.

When asked about his professional accomplishments, Shannon said “I am a retired US Army serving 21 years on active duty.”

When asked how KCS prepared him for life after graduation, Shannon said “[Kanawha County Schools] gave all the opportunities both academically and in athletics, and really allowed me to be the best to attain my goals both professionally and in life.”

Shannon also has some advice for current students, “Enjoy your time, it will go by quickly. The relationships you have built in your middle/high school years will last forever and you can always rely on those bonds of friendship.” He continued, “Missing any instruction for an extended length of time can place you behind the power curve. Showing universities and professional trades that you were putting in the effort and work to attend school that you will do the same in your future aspirations.”

Shannon finished by saying, “No matter what path you choose to follow after high school, be it college, military, or technical schools, be proud of your choice and give it 110%. The success you achieve will be how much hard work you put in from the start of that path.”