Commencement 18 Profile: Melissa Curtis teaches outside of the box

Monday, June 11, 2018
Melissa Curtis

Melissa Curtis is a multiple subject teaching credential candidate in the Teacher Education Program and will be earning that credential and her M.Ed. this June.

GGSE: What is your favorite memory from GGSE?

Curtis: I would say probably one of the stand out moments was our outside, collaborative game seminar that we did as a cohort. We learned a ton of collaborative games together that were fun with Ann Carlyle and Ann Bumby. I also enjoyed small group time. Ann Bumby was great in keeping our entire group grounded. She took each part of the program step-by-step, day-by-day, and kept us calm by getting us the information and support that we needed. She was a huge force in getting me through the year.

GGSE: What topics did you find particularly intriguing to learn about?

Curtis: I enjoyed Classroom Management and how to best structure the classroom. A few stand out classes were Danielle [Whitaker's] Literacy Class, where we learned about how to run different literacy stations, groups and curriculum; Ann Carlyle’s fun hands-on math class; Learning about ELD strategies with Jen Scalzo; Discussing more about what’s important about teaching and having really thoughtful conversations with Eva [Oxelson]. We had some great conversations about what is really important not only to us, but also to the kids to learn, and how we can create the best environment from that. It was a very full and comprehensive year of learning.

GGSE: How has TEP impacted the teacher you will be?

Curtis: It has made me a well-rounded teacher. I am an out of the box thinker who prioritizes what is best for the student, not what is easiest or most convenient for me. By giving us the research and the information behind the decisions we make, and how they impact the students, has been helpful for me, in addition to giving us experiences to try some of these strategies firsthand. Not only with our students, but many of the teachers tried their own strategies on us as a cohort. I’m thinking of the math games in Ann Caryle’s class, the science experiments in Danielle Harlow’s class, all of the literacy activities in Danielle Whitaker’s class. Every single class I’ve had here, we’ve participated in the strategies first hand as students. Because we know what it feels like, we know what it activates in the brain and can use that to craft our lessons in the classroom.

GGSE: What piece of advice would you pass on to incoming teacher candidates?

Curtis: I would say to trust yourself. Be present in all you can learn from this program, both inside and outside the classroom. And, really lean on the people in your cohort for support. We had an especially strong and cohesive cohort. I feel like we will have a lot of lasting friendships that will continue after this program. We always felt like we were in it together, and there was never an ounce of competitiveness. We were all in the same boat, helping each other float. 

GGSE: Is there anyone in particular you would like to thank? Teachers, supervisors, staff, fellow students that were important to you, and why?

Curtis: Definitely my supervisor Ann Bumby, and my cooperating teachers were next-level awesome. All three of them! I had two Kindergarten teachers in the fall who job shared, Allison LaPlante and Christie Paloczi, and then Lesley Hetrick. The three of them were such amazing models for me for their great management skills and the breadth of experience they shared with me. They really took on the role of mentor and supported me not only professionally, but personally. They’re amazing.

Every single teacher here had an impact on my learning. I appreciated what all of them brought to the table. I think what’s really neat about the instructional staff here is that they’re all so different and they all bring something unique for us to think about. I think having such a diverse staff is going to make us really well-rounded teachers.

GGSE: What are your plans upon graduating?

Curtis: I am excited to teach 6th Grade and join the teaching staff at Hollister Elementary in Goleta!

GGSE: How will you be celebrating your graduation?

Curtis: I’m hoping to take a couple of vacations this summer and to spend time with my precious pup. Hopefully lots of beach trips and reading all the teacher books I can get my hands on. There is still so much I want to read and learn about before starting my own classroom.