3.02.2011

This is Her Story: {Melissa}

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Happy Tuesday, Blonde Ambitioners! Today's special guest is Melissa.

Melissa is a middle school teacher and fellow blonde, twenty-something just trying to make her mark on the world, one student at a time. Read more about challenging and often under appreciated job that is teaching!

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Name: Melissa

Age: 26

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Profession: 8th Grade Math Teacher

Meet Melissa!

Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be posting here today! When I saw that Leslie was doing the This Is Her Story series, I knew immediately that I wanted to participate. I’ve loved reading all of the different stories so far, and I hope my story will give you some better insight into the teaching profession in today’s world!

I grew up in Marietta (a large Northern suburb of Atlanta), Georgia and went to high school in the same school system that my Mom and Dad grew up in. My entire family is from Georgia, so I grew up with my extended family always around me and still see them often. I have one brother that currently plays college baseball. I attended the University of Georgia where I got my degree in Middle School Education. After a fun few years in Athens, I made the big move to Atlanta where I met my boyfriend, Roman. We have been together now for two and a half years, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!

I am currently in my fourth year of teaching. I teach 8th grade math at a school that is about 40 miles outside of Atlanta in the state’s largest school system. This also happens to be one of the largest urban school districts in the country. My school consists of about 60% Black and Hispanic students with the other 40% being White and a small percentage of other minority groups. We currently are one of the top performing middle schools in our district despite a more than 40% free and reduced lunch population. Having grown up in a wealthy, Upper Middle Class school system where minorities were almost non-existent, my experience in teaching this population of students has opened my eyes in so many ways. I am continually amazed at the accomplishments of my students yet saddened by the hardships that so many of them and their families face. From homelessness to unimaginable poverty to illiteracy to non-English speaking families to crime infested lives, I have grown to admire my students and learn from them as much as, if not more than, they learn from me.

Melissa's classroom

When did you decide that you wanted to be a teacher?

I think that, deep down, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. As a kid, I was always playing school with my friends and pretending to be a teacher. In fifth grade, I was voted “Most Likely to Become a 5th Grade Teacher” by my classmates. But, my parents were both very successful in the business world. My Dad is the Vice President of Sales for his company, and my Mom (who is now “retired” at the age of 46) was a very successful IT Manager for a big company here in Atlanta. When I went to college, I didn’t really think that I would ever pursue anything other than a business degree. Once I started taking business classes, that mindset quickly changed. I realized that, although I really was interested in the business world, I could never see myself working an office/desk job. On a whim, I dropped a class, went to the school of education, figured out what I needed to do to switch my major, and made up my mind that I was going to be a middle school math teacher. Just like that.

What we are doing in class now…LOVE these letters my BFF made for my board this year!

Was it a risky choice as a second semester sophomore? Sure. But, something told me that this was the path that was best for me. In the end, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?


The most challenging part of my job is putting myself in the shoes of my kids. If you were to think back to when you were in eighth grade, most of you would probably cringe. I know I do. I hated middle school, but that is also one of the reasons I LOVE teaching middle schoolers. I know how rough that time in your life can be, but I also know how much better things can get post-middle school. I try to help my students see that. Sometimes, this is the most difficult part of my job. Other times, the most difficult part is putting myself in their shoes and trying to understand what they are going through. Whether it is issues with family, friends, boys/girls, other teachers…these all effect kids of this age in a huge way. Although I sometimes struggle with relating to them, when I do make a connection with a kid, it is the most rewarding thing about my job.

(The best piece of technology EVER…my Interwrite Tablet!  I can walk around the room and write on it while I’m teaching…to catch those sleepers!)
What has been your proudest day as a teacher thus far in your career?

The proudest day for me as a teacher came this year. One of my former students who was a really tough student to handle came back to visit me one afternoon. We were talking about how his high school experience was going and how his grades in his classes were. This kid had given me such a hard time the year before, and his parents made my life as a teacher less than easy. In the middle of our conversation, he stopped suddenly and said, “Thank you for pushing me so hard.” This little jokester kid didn’t know it at the time, but his words will stick with me forever. And for that, I am forever grateful to him.

I took a tip from a former coworker of mine during my first year of teaching to keep a file of happy thoughts during my career. As a teacher, there are so many moments when you get bogged down by negativity, either from administrators, parents, students, or even coworkers. That day, I wrote down what this student had said to me and put it in my file along with everything else I’ve added over the years. I can’t wait to look back on all of those pictures, notes, and memories one day when I’m old and gray.

3 comments:

  1. Yay, another teacher! I love reading about other teachers and their inspirations!

    Cxx

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really enjoyed this post, thanks so much for sharing!! It must be great to see that the work you are doing actually influences the lives of those around you every day!
    kerryandscott.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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