Shira Stahl, Reporter & Designer
Science and Vet Tech teacher Melissa Kehl has recently announced that she will leave VHS at the end of this school year.
Following her departure, Kehl will go back to being a full-time veterinarian, the field of her doctoral degree, at the Seattle Animal Shelter. Prior to teaching, she worked at the Kitsap Humane Society for three years, which was similar to the work that she will do at her new job.
Beginning on June 23, she will spend three days a week working with animal medicine, caring for sick and hurt animals, and two days a week performing surgery. She is excited to go back to doing surgeries such as necropsy and spay-and-neuter.
She has worked at the school for five years. Prior to her arrival on Vashon, she taught for 15 years in Los Angeles.
Kehl has taught a variety of classes in her educational career surrounding biology, chemistry and life sciences.
In addition to being a full-time teacher, she currently works on the weekends at both the Kitsap Humane Society and Seattle Animal Shelter.
Kehl believes that her experience teaching will help her explain the complex processes of veterinary medicine in an understandable way to adopters and volunteers.
“When you have an old dog who has been [overlooked] by many adopters looking for a puppy, and he finally gets adopted by a loving, big-hearted person, … it’s simply magical,” Kehl said.
The decision to work as a full-time vet was not an easy one for Kehl. Though she loves teaching at the high school, she found a full-time job in veterinary work, and the time seemed right.
“It’s time for me to get back to shelter medicine,” Kehl said.
Although she is happy to be working as a veterinarian again, Kehl predicts that she will still miss teaching and having the opportunity to take part in clubs and activities at the school, such as the math, croquet and badminton clubs. She loves her interactions with teenagers and how much fun she has had teaching them.
“Students are like puppies; they need to learn when not to bark, when to sit still and when to go to the bathroom,” Kehl said.
Students have found her to be a good match.
“She was always really enthusiastic, and I felt like I learned a lot because she was always so into it,” said sophomore Jackie Bostock, who took both biology and vet tech with Kehl.
Junior Lucas MacLeod was also in Kehl’s biology and vet classes; he too found Kehl’s eccentric nature to be beneficial to him and his peers.
“Dr. Kehl is an active teacher, [and] you never know what you’re going to expect when you come into her classroom,” MacLeod said. “It’s never the same … routine; it’s always something new. It’s great.”
Regarding the coming transition, though, Kehl spoke to the welcome change of pace.
“I love teaching high school…[But] I also love vet work, ” Kehl said. “Surgery is a chance to step away from the chaos and noise of the shelter and focus on the amazing anatomy. That part of the day is quiet and beautiful and when it is done… it is done. Mission accomplished.”