How I got to LSUS:
My Dad, an Air Force Colonel, received orders to be transferred to Barksdale AFB the summer before my high school senior year. After graduating from high school in Nebraska, I had plans to attend University of South Florida. After coming to Louisiana for a visit, I fell in love with the Louisiana culture and the Shreveport-Bossier community. LSU Shreveport was the perfect choice for me to achieve my goals.
Fond Memories of LSUS:
The fondest memory is the list of people that LSUS brought into my life who became lifelong friends, mentors, and teachers. One of these people became my husband and best friend. Victor, a 1993 graduate of LSUS, and I met while fulfilling our student teaching requirements at Caddo Magnet High School.
LSUS faculty who helped me:
Dr. Rick Mabry fostered my knowledge and love of mathematics while encouraging me to pursue a degree in mathematics. Of course, he did not intend for me to interpret that as a mathematics education degree, but I believe he would confirm that he is glad I changed from being an accounting major.
Dr. Gale Bridger had a great influence on my post-graduate career path and continues to be a mentor and friend.
How LSUS helped me succeed:
LSUS provided me with not only the academic knowledge necessary to be successful but the lifelong skills of critical thinking, time management, communication, dedication, and determination.
What I do now:
After teaching in Caddo and Bossier Parishes and serving in an administrative role at LSU Shreveport for 17 years, in 2012 I joined the Louisiana Department of Education. I currently serve in the role of Deputy Director in the Division of Academic Content. In addition to my fulltime position, I continue to teach education courses at LSUS.
About my job:
My current position with the Louisiana Department of Education affords me the opportunity to be able to pull from my experiences at the school, district and university levels. The main focus of my work is related to Compass, the state's educator support and evaluation system designed to provide all educators with regular, meaningful feedback on their performance. This system promotes a cycle of continuous improvement by providing aligned resources that guide educators throughout the year. Creating and delivering tools that support educators as they implement this system is not just my work, but something I am committed to doing and doing well. Supporting those closest to our students is critical to the future of our state.
Advice to college-bound students:
In order to be successful, set high standards in every aspect of your life, surround yourself with people who build you up, and always be on the watch for opportunities that enhance your skills and bring you in contact with new people.
Advice to someone who wants to enter my field:
Education is a profession to be entered into only after much consideration. It is very rewarding and requires commitment to the idea that learning never stops and reaches outside of the walls of the classroom. Think about this statement: "Teachers are born, not made." As people are contemplating a career as a teacher, they should ask themselves if they currently possess the basic skills and dispositions of a teacher. These include good written and oral communication skills, unending dedication, compassion and caring for people from diverse backgrounds, effective organization and time management skills, continued open-mindedness, and determination to be a lifelong learner. With these in place, becoming an effective teacher will be achieved with ease.
Tips on choosing a major or career:
Making a list of the areas you are strong in and what you enjoy doing, will make this task easier. For example, I loved and was strong in math during high school, so I initially selected accounting as a career. But, my love for people and teaching drove me to the field of mathematics education. Talk to your high school counselors and other adults, and visit potential places of employment that you find interesting.
My toughest professional challenge:
I cannot think of one specific challenge that I have had professionally, but in general I struggle with trying to funnel all of the knowledge I have gained through my academic courses and my work experiences. Because of the people I have had as teachers and mentors, both formal and informal, I have been blessed with many opportunities to learn about the education process that starts with preschool and continues through postsecondary education. The general challenge that exists because of this wide range of knowledge is trying to stay focused on the ultimate goal of providing quality education programs to the people who will become part of the workforce in Louisiana and the United States.
My toughest personal challenge:
First, I will say that my toughest personal challenge actually turned into my greatest blessing. My husband and I have three children - Jacob 19, Zachary 17, and Ava 7. When Zachary was 2-1/2, he was diagnosed with Autism. Initially, I thought this diagnosis was the end instead of a beginning. After much time and a renewed faith in Jesus Christ that included focusing on certain scripture verses, we began to embrace the blessing that God gave us. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 19:21 - "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Zachary was designed by God in order to fulfill the Lord's purpose not mine. It is my job as his mother to help him grow and make a difference in this world.
Successes (honors, awards, etc.) in my life:
Bossier Parish High School Teacher of the Year 2000
LSUS M.Ed. Student Award - 2003
LSUS Deans' Council Award - 2006
LSUS Outstanding Service Award - 2008
I've learned this from life:
God's plan for my life is much bigger than I could have ever imagined!
(Click here to read more about Victor, Melissa's husband, and Class of '93 Alum!)