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The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

Influential Women at LHS

Mrs. Nemeth and Mrs. Masse
Mrs. Nemeth and Mrs. Masse

March is Women’s History Month, a month for women all over the country to celebrate the influential women who came before them, the influential women currently, and of course, themselves. This month is dedicated to educating and spreading awareness on the issues women face, focusing on the women history forgot, and emphasizing women’s contributions to the world and society. This year I want to focus on a few of the many influential women at LHS. 

The first woman I would like to focus on is Mrs. Lisa Nemeth, the principal of LHS. She started her career by gaining a degree in Exercise Physiology with a concentration in cardiac rehabilitation at Ithaca College. Before becoming principal at LHS in 2011, Mrs. Nemeth worked as a health teacher at Belchertown Middle School and Chicopee High School, then she became an assistant principal at Chicopee High School. 

While working as a cardiac rehabilitation specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Hartford, CT, Mrs. Nemeth realized she had a gift for teaching. She realized this when her boss, a female cardiac nurse “recognized I had a gift for teaching and making relationships.” After this comment, Mrs. Nemeth “quit that job and enrolled full-time at Springfield College,” where she received her master’s in Health Promotion/Wellness Management, with a Health/PE teaching certification as a minor. To further her career in teaching she attended Westfield State College for her Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Leadership. 

When asked to highlight any influential women who have played a significant role in her life or career, Mrs. Nemeth responded “My boss who was a cardiac nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and my principal at Chicopee High School, Mrs. Bigda.” She says Mrs. Bigda was “awe-inspiring, confident and smart,” and a “well-liked and a great leader.” She also cites Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama as some women who inspire her. 

Her advice to female students wanting to become leaders is to “never underestimate what you can accomplish,” and that “hard work does pay off.” Another piece of advice from Mrs. Nemeth is that “you CAN be anything you want to be in life and be sure you love your job.” 

Many women, even the most qualified and respected, have to endure gender-related biases, especially those in male-dominated leadership positions. Mrs Nemeth is no exception. She shared a story about a time she faced gender-related bias while working as a principal, “Many times as the principal here at LHS if the now retired assistant principal Mike Halpin was standing with me at an event or even behind the LHS main counter- people would think he was the principal.” When the former principal would correct them, “and would refer them to me, they would say ‘Really?’”

This experience is sadly, not just unique to Mrs. Nemeth. Many women who hold leadership positions face this rude assumption every day, just because they don’t fulfill the preconceived notion of what a leader is. 

Another experience Mrs. Nemeth shared with me is a classic case of men making weird comments. The weird comments being, “‘You’re too pretty to be a principal’, ‘I’ve never seen a principal look like you,’ and ‘I wish my principal looked like you when I was in high school.’” A particularly strange comment was when she “once had a parent ask me if any senior boys ever hit on me. I was like ‘WHAT???’” 

Why is it that women must tolerate these strange comments without batting an eye like they aren’t humiliating and strange? Sometimes the audacity of men is too much to handle.

On the most rewarding part of being a principal, Mrs. Nemeth said “It was being around the students and feeling like I was allowed to share a small, important part of their life with them.” She also mentioned her influence on things such as that she “inspired walk downs for spirit week. I created the senior walkthrough. I designed and recommended many electives we have at LHS, and many other things students take for granted, but it was my idea or my implementation. I don’t need the recognition, I just want to be a part of it.” Lastly, she remarked, “I really loved my high school years and I love coming to work every day.” 

The next influential woman I would like to focus on is English teacher, Mrs. Masse. She started her career at Western New England University where she majored in English with the hope of becoming a lawyer. However, after just getting engaged and not wanting to jump straight into three more years of schooling, Masse started teaching. Her father is the main reason for this decision, as he “was a high school history teacher in Ludlow for 35 years. I wanted to be like him, and I thought I could be a good teacher.” 

After doing her student teaching at LHS and being a long-term substitute teacher at Minnechaug, she “applied for an opening at Ludlow High School, and I have been here ever since.” Later, she got her master’s degree at AIC and did a counseling program at Cambridge College to further her education. 

When asked to cite two influential women in her life, Mrs. Masse answered, “My sister has influenced me greatly. She is the strongest person I know and one of the hardest working. I strive to be like her every day.” Another influential woman in Mrs. Masse’s life is Mrs. Fernandes, who was once Mrs. Masse’s student and now is her colleague. “Like my sister, she also faces obstacles with strength and grace. She is also the hardest-working teacher in the building, and I respect hard work more than anything else.”

Mrs. Masse’s advice to young women “would be to always work hard and NEVER think of yourself as a victim.” She “would also tell young women that it is totally possible to have a great career you are good at and a family.” A sentiment I think many women should hear. Additionally, “Both my job and my family are extremely important to me, and I think my job teaching makes me a better parent, and being a parent makes me a better teacher. You can indeed do it all if you want it and work at it.” 

High school can be a very judgy environment, especially among young women. Mrs. Masse wants to “tell women to stop putting other women down. No matter what life choice a woman makes, whether it is to work a corporate job, be a teacher, be a stay-at-home mom, etc — she is making the right choice for her, so don’t judge her. Instead, focus on your own life.” Lastly she wants women to “stop comparing themselves to others. Comparison is the thief of joy. Love yourself and remember, Instagram isn’t real.”

For Mrs. Masse, the students are the most rewarding part of being a teacher. She strives to make a difference in her student’s lives, “I think most times I do even if they may not realize it until years later.” She has “high expectations of students.” She says that the high expectations she has for students “bothers them sometimes, but what in the world have low expectations ever gotten anyone? Certainly not success – life is hard and everyone needs to practice overcoming obstacles and challenges. This practice will never fail you in life, not once.”

Among my classmates, friends, and teachers, Mrs. Masses’s influence is strong. Cheerleader Liana Chaves, says, “Mrs. Masse inspires me to be a better person and she gives me good advice on things when I have no idea what to do.” Miss Western Massachusetts Teen, Madison Mathias, says, “Mrs. Masse is one of my favorite teachers, her class had the perfect balance of fun and learning.” 

Their influence is felt throughout the building, and students can attest to that. Mrs. Nemeth through her position of power in our school, and Mrs. Masse through her connection with students. These women are just two examples of the many influential and inspiring women at LHS.

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About the Contributor
Emilia Alves, Staff Writer
Emilia Alves is a part of the Class of 2026 at Ludlow High School. This is her first year being a part of The Cub. She is a part of many clubs such as, art club, drama club, LHS Cares, and Portuguese club. Some of her interests outside of school include drawing, photography, reading memoirs or classics, playing guitar, listening to music, and creative writing. Emilia hopes to go to a prestigious college and become either a doctor or a journalist.

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