Vestavia High Principal Cas McWaters Leaving After Almost 30 Years
By Margaret Frymire
Journal Staff Writer
After almost 30 years of service, the principal of Vestavia Hills High School has decided to step down.
In his many years at Vestavia, Cas McWaters has worked as coach, teacher, assistant principal and principal but said his favorite part of the job has always been the students.
“I love the kids,” McWaters said. “I enjoy interacting with teenagers. They still relate to me at 51, perhaps, in part, because I try to relate to them.”
McWaters was first introduced to Vestavia Hills schools when he started school in Vestavia as a first-grader.
McWaters graduated from Vestavia Hills High School in 1980. Throughout the next several years, he volunteered at the school, coaching baseball and football.
A graduate of Auburn University, McWaters majored in chemistry on the pre-med track, planning to go into the medical field.
McWaters said he had no intention of going into education but that he had always had a passion for kids.
Since the 1980s, McWaters has worked at Vestavia Hills High except for a brief two-year period as the principal of Tarrant High. He returned to Vestavia to assume the role of principal in 2006 and has been there since.
McWaters said that the biggest change he’s seen at Vestavia High during his career is the prominence of philanthropy in the school’s curriculum. In the fall, the school’s SGA picks a philanthropy that the students and various clubs then become involved in.
In the spring, Vestavia Hills High participates in Relay for Life. McWaters said that in the past seven years, Vestavia Hills High has built a house for Habitat for Humanity each year and raised $200,000 a year for charities.
“It’s truly become part of the culture at Vestavia. We have been given much, and much is required of us,” said McWaters. “We want to be out there helping others. The kids love doing it, and they don’t see it as a chore.”
McWaters also said that a benefit of the philanthropy emphasis at Vestavia is the leadership opportunities for the students that involvement in service and philanthropies provides. The students organize, raise money and lead the community in service.
“I truly believe we have really special kids,” said McWaters, “We just have some really neat students.”
McWaters has spent the past seven years as Vestavia High’s principal, longer than many of his counterparts. It’s a demanding job leading a school of 1,880 students, and McWaters said he felt the Lord leading him to a different area–one where he could rest and spend more time with his family.
At Bessemer Academy, where McWaters has taken a teaching job for next year, he said he hopes to be able to find the “balance of pouring out in service and being filled with rest.”
McWaters said he hopes in his absence Vestavia Hills High still continues to seek ways to raise the bar of academic excellence.
He said he wants the school to continue teaching the students life skills.
McWaters said the school and community have always had a welcoming, family feel, and he hopes that tradition continues despite the growing size of the high school.
He plans to remain involved in the Vestavia Hills community, especially as his son, Hanley, now an eighth-grader, prepares to enter Vestavia High. McWaters also teaches 10th-grade Sunday school classes at Shades Mountain Baptist Church and plans to continue to remain involved in the lives of students in Vestavia Hills.
McWaters said he’s had a lot of moments he will never forget at Vestavia Hills High School, but he does have his favorites.
“Anytime we see kids succeed. Those have been my favorite moments,” he said.