Melissa Hester

Monaview Elementary School

 

1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?

As a 5th grade teacher at Monaview Elementary, each day brings about successes and new challenges. As a classroom teacher, I spend my day with 20 incredible students who are all very unique, each with their own set of strengths and passions. I instruct them in all core content areas each day. In addition to my role as their teacher, I serve as their mentor, coach, listening ear, shoulder to cry on and cheerleader.

2.)  What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?

 

My education philosophy is embodied in a quote that I have posted in my classroom and that I include as part of my educator resume: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams

 

3.) Why did you become an educator?

 

As a young child, school was where I felt safe. As an adult, I became an educator because I wanted to provide that same safe, nurturing and calming environment for my students.

4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?

 

As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, I hope to have a greater effect on education in my community and beyond in several areas. First, I want to advocate for our profession and our students to bring about the full funding of education. This is an issue that is at the forefront currently and I feel it is important that those of us in a position to be heard allow our voices to speak for those who cannot. Every small step we take together toward this goal is a win for our students and all teachers.

In addition, I would like to impact education by helping to educate teachers and the community on restorative practices and mindfulness. As a classroom teacher, it is important to build a sense of trust and community within a classroom and school.

These practices will allow teachers to proactively address discipline issues within their classrooms by building a sense of community. Dr. James Comer said that, "No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship." This is what restorative practices is all about. When students know that they are cared for, they are willing to take risks in the classroom and follow the rules set out to aide them in being successful.

 

5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?

 

After completing my 14th year in education, I had the opportunity to attend the Get Your Teach On National Conference in June of 2018. This professional development experience was life changing. It should be a mandatory experience for all first year teachers. Learning about student engagement strategies from Hope and Wade King, and the rest of the Get Your Teach On staff, has transformed my daily classroom instruction.

It may sound strange, but I feel that I receive a great deal of professional development from interacting with educators nationwide through social media. We live in a digital age, and educators are sharing ideas and conversing daily through platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. These social media sources did not exist when I began my teaching career and my ability to network was really limited to those within my school and school district. Now, I am learning new ideas on how to improve my instruction, classroom management and better myself for my students from educators all over. It’s really an exciting time to be an educator!

6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.   

 

I do not believe there was one specific moment when I realized my career choice in education was the right one. That feeling was something that I felt within me from the first time I stepped into my very own classroom. I’ve taught in two states and three schools during my fifteen year tenure as an educator and each day there was at least one moment, typically many, many more moments, that reaffirmed my decision to devote my career to educating children.

7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?

 

If I could change one thing about education, it would be that we have adequate funding to support our schools.

 

8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?

 

After completing my third year as a classroom teacher, I began my Master's of Educational Leadership program. This was a huge undertaking for me while working full-time, but I had a very strong desire to continue my higher education. After successful completion of the program and graduating Cum Laude, I was named as Administrative Intern, then Assistant Principal at my school in July of 2010. I served as an administrator for five years before relocating to South Carolina in July 2016.

This was my greatest triumph as an educator, and my most rewarding experience. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, earning 3 college degrees and being trusted to lead an elementary school was a tremendous honor. This honor gave me the ability to positively impact a school community of 600 students and over 60 full time staff members. As an administrator, I helped to lead my school as we earned numerous awards such as School of Excellence and being named a Title I School of Distinction. I was given the opportunity to impact hundreds of students and parents each year and create a school culture that we were proud of. Students and staff alike loved being a part of our school each day. In the five years I served as an administrator, I was given the opportunity to lead many new initiatives that gave me valuable leadership experience. Each and every day brought something new, from mentoring teachers and students, to building a school of excellence as a community. I love being a classroom teacher, but as an administrator I was able to positively impact an entire school community and it was extremely rewarding.

Eight Questions For SCASCD Emerging Leaders

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