Lee County Schools Teacher of the Week — Melanie B. Hawes
Name: Melanie Buie Hawes
Grades/subjects you teach: third grade
Date, place of birth: Oct. 1, 1971, Sanford, N.C.
Education (high school and college attended, degrees): Lee County High School; East Carolina – elementary education K-6; UNC Greensboro – master's in reading K-12; national board certified – twice
Brief work history: J. Glenn Edwards – Title I teacher – five years; Tramway – second grade, third grade
Teaching honors/awards: Edwards Teacher of the Year, Lee County Teacher of the Year, Tramway Teacher of the Year
Hobbies/interests outside teaching: Reading, traveling, listening to and going to see the The Avett Brothers perform
Family: Husband – Adam, daughter — Scotland
What led you to a career as a teacher?
My parents were my inspiration to become a teacher. Both were teachers, and my dad was an administrator at CCCC for many years. I was lucky enough to work at Tramway for a few years with my mom before she retired. To this day, people still tell me how much they love and respect my mom and dad. I knew I wanted to make a difference and influence other lives in such a positive way.
Who were your favorite teachers as you went through school, and what did you learn from them?
My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Kathryn Waters, read chapter books aloud to us. I remember checking out the books from the library because I wanted to read along with her and even finish the books before she did in class. Also, my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Barbara Jackson, encouraged us to write daily in our journals. I remember enjoying dressing up as our favorite book character. I was one of the Bobsey Twins. What is really awesome is that I have had the opportunity to teach the grandchildren of these amazing ladies. I hope my students will remember me as fondly as I remember these two teachers.
Has becoming a teacher been all you expected it would be?
I love being a teacher, but it is much harder than it looks. I never know what each day will hold — as teachers we wear many hats.
How has teaching changed since you were a student?
Handwriting was a big deal when I was a student. My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Nell Johnston, had the most perfect cursive! Students got paddled back then for misbehaving at Greenwood Elementary. We were scared of those paddles!
What "makes your day" as a teacher?
Hugs from students, a compliment from a parent and seeing former students experience success make my day.
What's working in schools today?
I love having the laptops in our classroom. It has opened so many doors to the students. It has definitely changed how I plan lessons and makes learning real world.
What's not working?
The pressure is unbelievable on teachers. Testing is stressful for students, parents and teachers. Not sure what the answer is — but less testing would help.
What's your favorite memory of your first year as a teacher?
I drove a very old light blue car that belonged to my Great Aunt Lespie when I first started teaching. Midway through my first year, I bought a new-to-me car to replace Lespie. I took my fifth graders out to see my car, and they were just as excited as I was about the car. One student exclaimed, “ Oh Miss Buie, we thought you were poor!”
How would your "teacher" persona handle you as a student?
I was painfully shy as a young student, so I would encourage the young me to be confident.
Best piece of advice for other teachers?
Have fun — if it isn't fun for you, it probably isn't for the kids either.
Try your best always. Don't give up!
Make school a priority in your home — spend as much time reading or practicing math as you do watching television, playing computers or sports. The benefits will pay off!
If you were superintendent for a day, you'd:
I can't imagine the responsibility, but I think I'd enjoy having more than 25 minutes to eat lunch.
What about your job would surprise your non-teaching friends the most?
I think others would be surprised that I don't leave the job when I leave the building. Not only do I take work home, but wake up in the middle of the night reflecting and trying to think of better ways to teach lessons.
If you could somehow magically instill one truth into the heads of your students, what would it be?
Love the differences in everyone — respect each other always.
When you think about today's kids, you:
I have no idea what incredibly cool jobs that some of them may create! I can't believe that the computer was just invented in the 80’s and how different our lives have become. With all this amazing technology, I hope they still can enjoy the simple joys of playing outside with a ball and using their imaginations to pretend with their friends.
If one of your students was asked for a one-word description of you by a student who hadn't had you in class, what would that one word be?
Favorite motto about school or teaching:
“Decide what to Be and go Be it!" — The Avett Brothers
How would you summarize your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy is to build an environment where students feel supported and secure. I believe you have to encourage students to do their best and then expect and accept only their best. Through my enthusiasm, I try my best to make learning fun and real. My personal goal is to inspire lifelong readers and learners.
What five things must every teacher know?
1. Be flexible. 2. Expect the unexpected. 3.Use patience. 4. Be consistent. 5. Pray for your children.
What's special about your classroom?
I am a collector of books, so my class is full of all kinds of books. I started buying books for my class in college, and I always say “yes” if someone asks if I would like books their child has outgrown. I like to think our room is inviting and friendly, but others may say cluttered.
What's special about your school?
I absolutely love our year-round calendar. It is great for students and staff. It gives us four intercessions to take a break and then go back to work rested and ready. We also have great parental support at Tramway.
Most unusual question you've ever gotten from a student?
“Are we going to eat lunch today?”