Westmoreland County Public Schools recently sent out letters in sealed envelopes to approximately ten employees of various positions within their school system. The employees were informed in these letters that they would be transferred to another school within the county in the upcoming school year. One of these employees was Cole Vanover, a physical education teacher at Washington and Lee High School, as well as the head instructor of Washington and Lee’s drivers’ education program and the head coach of both the Eagles’ cross country team and the girls’ varsity soccer team.
The news eventually spread to the students of Washington and Lee, who took it upon themselves to speak out against moving one of their beloved teachers. Jeremy Saunders, a sophomore at Washington and Lee and a cross country runner for the Eagles, decided to create the Vanover is W&L Facebook page for students and alumni to express their thoughts and desire to keep Vanover at Washington and Lee. “Mr. Vanover has been a monumental figure at [Washington and Lee],” Saunders says. “Without him nothing would be the same.”
Though Vanover will still have the opportunity to coach high school sports while at a different school, students believe that it is his presence at Washington and Lee that makes him important. “I think what a lot of people need is someone to believe in them,” Emma Oliver, a sophomore at W&L and a Eagles cross country runner, stated. “Vanover has confidence in me to do anything. I would not know I could do so many different things if he didn’t push me to get out there and try.”
The students are perplexed as to why such an influential teacher at the high school has been transfered. Sarah Sisson, a former student of Washington and Lee, argues that the school will never grow if they continue cycling through teachers. “Washington and Lee undervalues their most qualified and valuable professionals,” Sisson debates. “They are lucky to have Vanover and other teachers invest their time, money, and knowledge in this school . . . [with] little reward or praise for [their] hard work.”