VanMetre new chief academic officer of Calcasieu Parish schools

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2022

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

After 22 years with the Calcasieu Parish School Board, Dr. Jason VanMetre has been selected as the new chief academic officer.

“I am so humbled and excited to be named CAO,” said VanMetre. “I am anxious to get out to the schools and see the wonderful things that are going on in our Calcasieu Parish schools.”

He attended high school at St. Louis Catholic. He went on to earn his Bachelor’s of Science in Biology Education from McNeese State University. This is also where he earned his Master’s Degree in Education, with a specialization in Administration and Supervision. VanMatre’s Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership is from Lamar University.

VanMetre’s teaching experience is extensive. He taught various high school science classes. He began by student teaching biology at Sam Houston High School under Mrs. Freedom, whom VanMetre deemed “an amazing teacher.” The next year, he was hired to teach physical science a Barbe High School. Throughout his years at Barbe, he taught physical science, biology, environmental science, physics and biology II.

“When I left the classroom, I was teaching AP Biology II, Biology II and Physics,” he stated. After leaving the classroom, he served as assistant principal at Sulphur High School for 2 ½ years and as principal of Westlake High School for 4 ½ years.

His most recent role with the CPSB was as Director of Management Information Services, where he served for three years. “I loved my time at all these places,” he said. “I have been so fortunate to work with terrific people who work hard every day to help ensure our students get a quality education.”

The inspiration to pursue a career at the CPSB stemmed from both his family’s dedication to education and those that taught him. “I come from a family of educators,” he explained. “My mother was a career educator at both Vinton High School and McNeese State University. My wife, sister and brother-in-law are all educators as well as having aunts and an uncle in education.”

“However, my high school physics teacher really inspired me to be a teacher.”

VanMetre recounted his time learning under Mr. Charles Zebley at St. Louis High School, stating that he “had a way of making a very hard subject seem accessible.”

“He was so excited about the subject that he was teaching, you couldn’t help but be excited too,” he said. “That was something that I wanted to pass on to my students.”

This was something that he was able to achieve. The excitement that VanMetre experienced in Zebley’s class followed him throughout his career in education, and he has found joy in the opportunity to pass on that excitement to his own students.

“Naturally, no kid was ever going to leave my biology class and go straight into an operating room as a doctor. Nor were any students going to leave my physics class and enter the engineering field immediately,” he said. “However, if I could inspire them to love science, they would want to continue to explore and learn.”

While he was a teacher, VanMetre’s philosophy was to have fun and learn every day. For him, if he believed his class was the most important and exciting class on campus, then the students would too. The inverse was also true. “If I thought my class was boring, my kids would too,” he continued. “Lucky for me, I taught science. Science can’t be boring!”

This is a sentiment that he wants future educators to keep in mind. “Make sure that you pass on the excitement for your subject to your students,” he said. “This job is fun. Some days are harder than others, but overall we get to help shape how students view themselves and the future.”

For VanMetre, education is a crucial cornerstone in any community. “If you want your community to thrive, you have to have a skilled, informed and educated population,” he stated. “That only happens through quality education.”

VanMetre is native to Southwest Louisiana. He is originally from Vinton, and has since lived in Lake Charles and Sulphur, where he and his family have been settled for the last 12 years. His wife Amanda serves as an assistant principal at Sulphur High School, where his son Paxton is a sophomore. In their free time, he and his wife spend their time “chasing him around” between soccer and football games, and band performances.