By RENEE FITE
Seasoned teachers know the gift they give children when they empower them to love learning.
Establishing a foundation of enjoying school is invaluable to young children, especially, since they are just discovering the wonders of the world.
From those foundations children grow to realize the power of an education as a tool to achieve their goals in life.
Tenkiller School kindergarten teacher Melissa Herrin likes to open those doors of empowerment through encouragement, caring, and a love for learning.
“I want each of my students to know that they are special and loved, and that if they work hard and make good choices they can do anything,” Herrin said. “I really enjoy working with this age group. The children are so full of energy and eager to learn. They have so many things to experience and it’s such a joy to be a part of it.”
Each teacher has personal reasons for choosing education as a career, and for Herrin, it is valuing the children.
“I became a teacher because I love children and what they represent,” she said. “God has given us this great gift and it is up to us to cherish them and to teach them right from wrong.”
Most teachers encourage parents to help them help their children, as well. For Herrin that includes communicating and being involved with their children.
“I advise parents to read to their kids and talk to them, give them a chance to talk to you and listen to them,” Herrin said. “Communication is a big deal to kids: Let them tell you about their day and be involved with them.”
This is her 19th year to teach and her 17th year at Tenkiller.
“Tenkiller School is such a great place to be. The faculty and staff are like one big family,” she said.
Herrin is a graduate of Tahlequah High School and Northeastern State University. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and early childhood education.
For new teachers, her encouragement is to take baby steps.
“Take it a day at a time, day by day and be there for the kids,” she said.
One teacher who stands out for Herrin as exceptional and genuine in his caring was also her physical education teacher in grade school, and the principal where she interned.
“Denver Spears always seemed genuinely concerned with the kidsm and when I was interning, I watched him,” she said. “Even though he was principal, he would still go out and interact with kids at recess; he’d play football and be involved with them. He genuinely cares and shows it. He still does. When I talk to him, he still asks how I am doing.”
Herrin and her husband, Jay, have two children, Baylee and Reece.
In her free time, she enjoys family activities.
“I love to bake, go on vacations, and spend time with my family,” she said.