April 21, 2003: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Secondary Education: Charlotte Observer: Morocco RPCV Melissa Bartlett up for national recognition as Educator

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : The Peace Corps in Morocco: April 21, 2003: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Secondary Education: Charlotte Observer: Morocco RPCV Melissa Bartlett up for national recognition as Educator

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Morocco RPCV Melissa Bartlett up for national recognition as Educator

Morocco RPCV Melissa Bartlett up for national recognition as Educator

Statesville educator up for national recognition
Bartlett is a finalist for Teacher of the Year
Staff Writer

STATESVILLE -Statesville High School English teacher Melissa Bartlett starts the school year by asking students to interview each other, write a brief profile of the person next to them and introduce the classmate.

She never assigns homework on weekends or on weeknights when there's a dance or a play. But you can count on it every other school night.

Her students must keep a journal so they can practice writing.

Bartlett has been the Iredell-Statesville Schools teacher of the year, regional teacher of the year and N.C. teacher of the year.

Next week, President Bush will announce if she is National Teacher of the Year. A panel of educators, representing 15 national teaching organizations, chose four finalists and selects the winner. In the award's 53 years, North Carolina has fielded five finalists, and three have won.

In Statesville, Bartlett is already a hero for her work in the classroom.

"She is the kind of teacher who can motivate hidden capacity in students," said Principal Ted Millsaps. "She gets the best out of each student in her classes."

In an educational era largely driven by test scores and accountability standards, Bartlett is a teacher who builds relationships with students, teachers and parents to elicit good work.

Bartlett, 45, has taught 18 years, including four at Statesville High, where she also instructs in grammar, composition, creative writing and English as a second language.

Previously, she taught social studies and worked with at-risk students in central North Carolina. She also taught English as a second language in Cairo, Egypt, and remedial reading to students in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Before that, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in northern Africa. She earned a master's degree from the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

For all the honors, Bartlett says she is no different than many of her peers. "Good teaching goes on every day in classrooms all across the state," she said. "That's one of the messages I want to get across."

Those close to her say Bartlett stands out.

The key, she says, is to involve students from their first day in class. The exercise to interview another student breaks the ice, stirs curiosity and starts building a web of relationships. She seeks out parents -- by phone, by e-mail or in person -- to make sure that support is there.

Math teacher Deborah Ellis, now in her 29th year at Statesville High School, said the way Bartlett works with students inspires their confidence in her. And Bartlett's overseas experiences put her at ease with many.

"She has a perspective on cultural diversity that few have," Ellis said. "She speaks two or three languages fluently, and her classroom decor is travel -- the students love it."

Students say Bartlett's travel experiences draw them in.

Bartlett taught junior Martha Kutteh in an honors English course, where travel souvenirs were used to spark discussions about authors.

"It was first thing in the morning, but nobody fell asleep," Martha said. "It wasn't like a normal class. We got up and moved around. Nobody was watching the clock, waiting for it to end."

Bartlett was adviser to the school's annual literary magazine when senior Stephanie Kay was editor. "She was always relaxed," Stephanie said. "She always let us try and figure out things before making her own suggestions."

Fellow English teacher Tracy Fox said Bartlett is businesslike at school. Bartlett helps coach other teachers on national board certification, and young instructors seek her advice. Her teaching is so well thought of that when Bartlett became an aerobics instructor at the YMCA, several colleagues immediately signed up.

But she's also got a fun side. "She showed up at a school spirit day with the `cat-in-the-hat' cap on," Martha said. "It made everybody's day."

For the past year, though, nobody has been able to appreciate Bartlett's teaching. She's been roaming the state as a goodwill ambassador for education, appearing at various events, speaking at local and regional teacher of the year ceremonies and advising the state board of education.

If she wins, she'll be on the road even more. If not, educators in Iredell County say they hope she'll soon be back to the classroom.

"Learning is a natural behavior," she said. "It's just a matter of doing what you can to bring it out."

Melissa Bartlett

Family: Husband, Walter.

Education: Bachelor of arts degree in English from Old Dominion University and a master's degree in teaching English as a foreign language from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She achieved National Board Certification in 1998.

Previously: As a Peace Corps volunteer, she taught math, science and physical education to children in northern Africa. She coordinated conflict resolution camps for kids from war-torn countries.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Charlotte Observer

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; Secondary Education



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