Educator Spotlight: Meet Melisa Hayes
Bright and warm elementary school teacher embraces family culture in the classroom
This story is part of a series that celebrates outstanding educators within the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
I bet if you were in the Hilliard, Ohio, area, Melisa Hayes would have you over for dinner.
She’d greet you in the driveway, smile warmly and make you feel welcome, and, come goodbye, she’d call you family.
Melisa is a wife, a mother of two teenage daughters and a second-grade teacher at Avery Elementary School, a place where her door is always open.
“It is completely family-oriented here, and the kids talk about their family often,” says Melisa, who has been teaching for over 20 years. “The parents are in it the first day. They can come in my room anytime. There’s no appointment – just walk in! Community members, same way. I love to invite people to our read-aloud days and invite them through Flipgrid if they can‘t make it in.”
For Melisa, Flipgrid is family, too.
“The ideas I get, the chats we have together and all the amazing educators who have taught me so many things along the way – it’s worth all the money in the world,” Melisa says. “For a teacher, Flipgrid is like winning the lottery.”
Diverse Projects Keep Students Engaged, Happy
Melisa found Flipgrid on Twitter a few years ago and eagerly jumped in to teach herself something new.
“I owe it to my family to learn as much as I can, which means every year has to be different for me – I can’t teach the same stuff!” Melisa says. “So when I found Flipgrid, I had to just dive in and play with it. I’m the type of person who won’t learn unless I do it myself, so I tried it out, it was super easy, and I loved it.
“It’s so invigorating for me to learn.”
Not only has she spent the past three years introducing Flipgrid to fellow teachers in her school district, she revels in her students taking on something new as well – learning with great enthusiasm, just like Melisa.
MELISA HAYES WELCOMED JESS BOYCE FROM FLIPGRID’S ENGAGEMENT TEAM INTO HER SECOND-GRADE CLASSROOM IN OHIO.
“When my kids come in, they don’t know what we’re going to do that day, and that makes them super excited,” she says. “They make requests of what they want to learn, but they’re just eager to see what’s next. They love to come to school, and it’s the same way with Flipgrid – I love to see them spark off something I taught then show me something I never even dreamed of. It makes all of this so worthwhile.”
She believes in Flipgrid, too – the same way she believes in each one of her students to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve.
“Flipgrid is an eye-opener,” Melisa says. “I have some kids, one or two each year, who don’t talk. And it could be that they’re shy, or it could just mean that they’ve been burned too many times, or they’ve had a label that they’re not smart enough. That’s hard for me. My youngest daughter has Down Syndrome, and things don’t come easy for her. I worry about kids making presumptions and thinking she’s different when she’s just like everyone else.
“But Flipgrid shows kids that they can do anything they set their minds to, no matter what – it’s an amazing tool that gives kids empowerment, which I think some of them lose depending on the year they had in school.”
Melisa is nurturing. She has a fun energy, so good for her young students, but you can deeply feel her tenderness. She’s incredibly mindful not just of who children are, but who they will be someday, too.
THE FOLLOWING YEAR, FLIPGRID’S ENTIRE ENGAGEMENT TEAM CAME TO VISIT MELISA IN OHIO.
“My second-graders are the best of both worlds,” she says so warmly. “They are innocent, they soak up so much and they are very approachable.”
She encourages whatever makes her students happy by facilitating “genius hour projects” on Flipgrid.
“We’ve had kids teach us about taekwondo, no-bake apple pies, or how to throw a football spiral,” Melisa says with a smile. “I just want them to research something they are passionate about and share it with us.”
She’s built a relationship with her students and her students’ families that creates an incredible dynamic in the classroom and beyond. Even amid remote learning, she feels connected to each of them.
“We don’t have rules or a behavior plan in this classroom,” Melisa says. “Just like a family, we have promises, and we always work things out together.”