Assistant principal 'became a second mother' to students
November 6, 2012Western Alamance High School
Published: Monday, November 5, 2012 at 18:55 PM.
People who knew Pamela Mebane say her influence will far outlast her life.
Mebane, an assistant principal at Western Alamance High School, died Saturday at the age of 42. Some students who knew her as an administrator and teacher there talk about how she inspired them to pursue careers ranging from acting to the legal profession.
Others say she was there for students in equally important ways, giving them support they may not have gotten elsewhere during the difficult teenage years.
Aaron Cardwell, a 2008 Western graduate, earned a degree in social work this year from Appalachian State University. Mebane taught Cardwell both English and drama at Western. She pushed Cardwell to pursue an acting career when Cardwell didn’t think it was a realistic choice.
“She told me that I had incredible talent when I didn’t really believe that it was a viable career option,” Cardwell said.
Mebane never gave up, even after Cardwell committed to the social work major in college.
“She would kind of shake her head and say, ‘You really need to do acting,’” Cardwell said.
This summer, Mebane finally got her way. Cardwell decided to pursue her passion. Mebane wrote a letter of recommendation for her to become a student at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, where she is now studying.
Cardwell described herself as offbeat during high school and said Mebane “saw that as something special and not something weird.” That was typical, Cardwell said, of Mebane’s eagerness to reach out to everyone.
“I don’t know anyone who is more kind or more determined to see students succeed … She kind of became a second mother to everyone.”
Another Western graduate, Taylor Richard, dropped out and is now studying at Alamance Community College with the hope of going on to a four-year university and then law school.
“If there was one reason any of the graduating students would return to Western,” Richard said, “It would be to show her how far we came with her help and to make her proud.”
Before coming to Western, Mebane taught at Graham High School. Elsewhere in Alamance County, she was an assistant principal at E.M. Yoder Elementary School. She taught elementary and high school in California, where she grew up in the Los Angeles area.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Service arrangements for Mebane have not been announced. They are being handled by McClure Funeral Home in Graham.
PEOPLE WHO KNEW MEBANEsay she was consistently happy and often lifted their moods.
“She always had a smile on her face and always took the time out of her day to come over to say hello,” said Josh Hughes, a 2011 Western graduate. “You always got the sense in talking with her that she was being genuine.”
Natalie Allison, another Western graduate, said Mebane knew how to make students feel special. When few turned out for a “senior prom” the school’s theater department organized for older people in 2008, Mebane took to the stage to entertain students with a Beyonce song.
Before Mebane became an assistant principal at Western, Connie Rea taught with her in the school’s theater department.
Rea said Mebane had strong professional credentials — earning a master’s degree in business administration in addition to her master’s degree in education — but those were surpassed by her exceptional personal skills.
“That was her gift,” Rea said. “These kids would line up to talk to her about anything and everything you could imagine that was going on in their lives.
Mebane, she said, would work through lunch to focus on solving problems to help students.
Rea said Mebane hoped to become a single parent by adopting a child. While that didn’t happen, her relationships with students — as well as teachers and other friends — were filled with the kind of love and energy good parents put into their children’s lives.
“Pam knew no enemy; she never knew when to say no,” Rea said. “She just didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”