Most of us can look back upon life’s journey and note certain individuals who powerfully impact the trajectory of our lives for good. These remarkable people seem gifted with an uncanny sense for the great potential in us. They see past our weakness and sense our capacities and capabilities. Miss Melanie Fisher of Bluffdale Elementary has been just such an individual for countless elementary school students. It is my great honor to nominate her for the Zion’s Bank/KSL Teacher Feature Award.
My son has had the privilege of being in her 5th Grade classroom for the 2015-2016 school year. Her reputation as a powerful educator runs far and wide, and to land in her classroom as a student is a life-changing experience.
To observe her unique gifts in action is to witness a potent cocktail of tremendously high expectations, and unabashed adoration for her young charges. Regular authentic praise and a unique reward system is employed. Rigid expectations for the students to respect adults and one another. Order and structure and energy. High fives and humor and love for each individual student. She requires them to do hard things, and they work their hearts out–rising to what they themselves might have thought impossible levels of performance.
In addition to the academic rigors of her classroom, this teacher knows how to play! She heads an after-school “softball club” for all of the school’s 5th graders in the spring, and a “5th Grade 5K” race for which students train during the weeks leading up to it.
At the heart of Miss Fisher’s teaching passion is that of US History and Government. Her students participate in lively reenactments of the Philadelphia Convention and Boston Massacre. A quick google search of her name brings up multiple newspaper and TV news features on her provision of the “We the People” program for her students. Having won a grant to participate in a training conference in Harrisonburg, Virginia for this program, she now provides her students with a rigorous educational experience on the history and content of the United States Constitution through which they become veritable constitutional experts. The climax of this experience is that of a mock congressional hearing held in the spring. Her students display an astonishing command of the material they have studied.
The results of Miss Fisher’s approach are unmistakable. Children who have previously struggled to memorize even a paragraph exit her classroom having memorized the entire Gettysburg Address, Bill of Rights, and Preamble to the Constitution. Students previously terrified to mumble two words in public deliver confident and complex speeches with microphone in hand to a crowded auditorium. Her infectious love of US History produces classrooms of children with a new passion for country and freedom.
Evidence of her impact are the many visitors she receives from past students well beyond their elementary school years to her classroom- all hoping to again bask in her attention and positive energy. Ask the parents of her students about her influence and you will likely observe misty-eyed expressions of deep gratitude. If ever a teacher were worthy of this recognition… it is Melanie Fisher. I wholeheartedly recommend her for this honor.