Teacher Spotlight: Ms.Melton

Ms.Melton teaches 5th grade at Margaret Scott Elementary School in Reynolds School District. This is her first year as a teacher and is excited to teach and learn with her first students!

How long have you been teaching?

I am a first-year teacher! Last year I student taught for a full year, also in 5th grade, as a part of my Master of Arts in teaching practicum. I am lucky to have worked with incredible mentors, and to work with an incredible team and building staff this year that is very supportive of me as a new teacher and also willing to collaborate with me and try new things. 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a child, I always knew that I was going to do something when I grew up that meant helping people in my own community. When I was 5 years old, I ran my first fundraiser, a penny drive for the local children’s hospital, after seeing it on an episode of “Zoom” on PBS. I started my own non-profit when I was in 5th grade, and later went on to have my first jobs as a teenager be for non-profit education organizations. Over the years my own experiences with education: having teachers that made a difference, but also seeing people around me struggle to get a fair and equitable public education, made me passionate about pursuing teaching in my own East County community, and now here I am!

What’s the best thing about being a teacher? 

The best thing about being a teacher is my students, building a community with them, and learning alongside them. I love teaching 5th grade because it is the age where students really begin to find their voice and become independent thinkers, and I like being a part of shaping them to be the critical thinkers that they become by the end of the year. Also, students are incredible people. Getting to know each of my students as an individual is the best part of my job and having those positive relationships with every student makes the learning that we can pursue and the growth the students experience in our classroom learning community even more meaningful.

What accomplishment fills you with pride so far this year?

There is no one accomplishment that stands out to me about this year, because every day and moment as a teacher is filled with accomplishments, and no one accomplishment is more important than another. Every time a student makes growth, shows kindness, or solves a problem is an accomplishment for me and for the student. As a first-year teacher, this is especially true. There is a steep learning curve as an educator, especially one new to the game, and being able to continue to adapt and learn leads to these accomplishments in every moment and every day. 

What inspires you?

People inspire me. I believe that everyone has a story, and as a teacher, I am in a unique position to get to hear and also be a part of the stories of many people. For every person that you meet, they have an experience with education, and as a teacher, and it is amazing to always be a part of that. Whenever I tell someone I have just met I am a 5th grade teacher, the next thing they usually say was that, “Oh I loved my 5th grade teacher,” or “My favorite teacher was…” Everyone has had a teacher that touched their life and made them who they are today, and as a teacher I get to do that every day in all kinds of ways. Education is that epicenter of our world, and it is time now more than ever that we increase the way we value it!

Do you have a morning ritual before to get ready for the school day?

Lately, with distance learning, my classroom blends into my small home, and rituals to get ready for a school day blend with my daily-life routines. However, whether I am teaching from home for distance learning, or driving to school to actually teach in my classroom, the most important part of starting my morning is getting to walk my dog before starting my day. It is a time that is just for me and my rescue dog to continue to bond, and also a time to get some peace, fresh-air, and be in solitude with everything I am thinking about to get ready for my day. I often joke with my team that I do my best lesson planning when I am walking the dog!

What is a typical school day like now?

A typical school day now is anything but typical! With distance learning, even when I keep an intentional schedule, school and home are much more intertwined than they were before (which was already quite a bit)! I live in a studio/loft apartment, so it can sometimes be difficult to physically separate my workspace, and often my workspace takes over my whole apartment, and my dog interrupts my work and meetings quite often. 

Another strange thing about the experience is that teaching is a very active and interactive job, and now it has become a job that I spend my entire day at a computer, and all interactions that I am able to have are digital. I start my day with office hours, where I am online posting lessons for my students, holding virtual class meetings and circle discussions, and available to answer questions and messages from students and families. After office hours end, I have meetings with my building and my team, and outside of that my team and I are always planning, whenever the next great idea strikes! I already tend to be a creative and collaborative problem solver, but tackling distance learning with my wonderful team has led to even more creativity in how we design and plan what we are teaching so that it can be engaging and accessible for all of our students, while we also constantly work together to overcome the barriers of distance learning and technology. 

If you could take your students on a field trip to anywhere in the world, where would you take them?

We actually were not able to take any field trips this year, between there not being a budget for them, and now the transition to distance learning. I think that if we could take a field-trip, I would actually want to maximize the value of our local community and the many exciting opportunities it holds: from the public library, to the art museum, to the Chinese Garden and Chinatown Museum. My team and I have had a major focus this year to shape our students into readers and inspiring them to learn to love reading. Our dream field trip would be to take them downtown Portland to the Central Branch of the Multnomah County Library, and to Powell’s Books, and have tours and learn about how to use the library for recreation and academics. There is wonder anywhere we choose to see it, and I would love to show my students that by taking them on field trips that show them the wonder right in their own city. 

What would your students be surprised to find out about you?

Part of my philosophy as an educator is that building relationships with my students is the most important thing, I can do in order to build a community in which learning can happen. With this, I think that relationship building goes in both directions, so while I know a lot about my students, they also already know a lot about me, from stories about my dog, my hobbies, my family, and so on. I don’t know if many things would surprise them! 

What are your “trapped on a desert island” books or movies?

I always make sure to have a way to watch “Benny and Joon,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” and “Dirty Dancing.” They are the three movies that I still have on DVD, and I have taken them with my every time I have moved, even know when I don’t have a DVD player!

What can you cook to perfection? Are you willing to share the recipe?

If I am being completely honest, I am not a bad cook, but I just don’t really enjoy cooking (or cleaning up after cooking). I have spent my entire time during the pandemic practicing making the perfect egg cooked over easy from a recipe that I read in my free “Better Homes and Gardens” subscription that I got when I bought some “Better Homes and Gardens” brand bedsheets. Really, it just tells you the right amount of time to cook the egg! A better recommendation I have is my favorite local place for Thai food on a Friday night: Srisiamchai Thai Restaurant on Main Avenue in Gresham. 

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