Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Sept. 4 newspaper on Page A1.
McARTHUR — Misty Napier is outcome-driven: she isn’t content with just wishing for change.
Napier serves as the director of the University of Rio Grande’s McArthur Center, which is a collaboration of the university and the Vinton County Local School District that allows students to take general education courses. In the future, Napier hopes to see a new center in the community to assist anyone in bettering themselves.
“I want to bring more opportunities to this area to create pathways for people to achieve their goals and dreams,” she said. “To be a part of that would be amazing.”
The nearly lifelong Vinton County native has an extensive education background: degrees from Hocking College, Ohio University, Walden University, where she studied social services, communication and education administration. Which makes sense: she loves to learn, and often she witnesses others fall in love with the pursuit of knowledge is one of the many highlights of her role at the college.
Napier said her role as director blends many of her passions together.
“Knowledge is important to me, and learning is growing,” Napier said. “I love the idea of being a part of someone else’s life and seeing them reach their potential. It’s amazing to see a pathway click with them, or see people go through different struggles and then walk across the stage at graduation.”
Napier noted a huge component of education and development takes place outside of any classroom.
This summer, Napier saw the implementation of her brainchild, “Adulting 101,” a free course that taught young adults important skills one normally doesn’t learn in high school classrooms: car maintenance, laundry, interview etiquette, financial matters, resume construction, social media presentation and basic cooking.
“I feel like in this area, we can be limited with what kids can do,” she said. “Sometimes we lose sight of those very basic skills. I got so much positive feedback from parents, and the school district was great to work with.”
Napier said this program will likely return next year, with some new additions and improvements.
Of course, this isn’t Napier’s only role in the community. She teaches parenting classes through Vinton County’s Ohio State University Extension office, for example. A diversity of parents — younger and older, single and married — attend these courses to seek support and simply learn. Napier herself is a single mother of three and has been for 15 years.
Napier worked for Job and Family Services for 16 years, and she worked with the Governor’s Office to spearhead the Ohio Benefit Bank. Napier once served on McArthur’s Village Council, and she currently serves on the board of the Shepherd’s House, a women’s shelter. She herself stayed at the shelter for some time years ago.
“Persistence does pay off. And your support system — I had family and very good friends encouraging me along the way, people who never lost sight of what my potential was or what I can do.”
Napier said that she’d love to publish a book about her life experiences, and she already has chapters completed. She doesn’t find her story completely unique (she even hesitated to call it interesting), but she nodded to how connecting human emotion can be.
“Disappointment, frustration, excitement, joy… we all have them,” she said. “I think a lot of people have the concept that they’re different. But there is power in releasing some of that; there’s strength in freeing yourself from thinking you have to be different.”
Out of all of the things or people who inspire her, Napier points first to her three sons: compassionate Max, disciplined Mason and athletic Sam. Next, she looks to her parents, Joy and Buddy Napier, her sisters Marcy and Michele and their families and her Grandma Peep who always refers to Napier as her “Sunshine.”
“My kids are my successes,” she said. “It may sound crazy that your kids are your support system, but they do keep me going. They want me to be someone to be proud of, and they are my purpose. When in doubt, turn to someone who truly knows you and that you trust to remind you of your self-worth.”