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Mendez Makes Mountain View a School of Choice

When Melissa Mendez was a student, she felt apathy from her teachers. Now as a fourth grade teacher at Mountain View Academy, she strives every day to make sure her students never get that feeling under her guidance.
Mendez said she struggled in school, was reluctant to learn, and didn’t have much confidence. She used “every excuse” to get out of class. But now, in her third year at Mountain View, she has helped the school to improve test scores and makes it a point to better students’ experience.
 Melissa Mendez Mountain View teacher
Mountain View students take part in “Camp Learn A Lot,” as Melissa Mendez brings in a tent and a kayak to help keep students engaged and make learning fun toward the end of the school year.

“I just wanted to be different and help kids that were like me when I was younger and find a joy for school,” she said. “Even if they are not the most gifted learners, I still want them to build that confidence and be different than all the teachers I had growing up.”
In 2021-22, Mountain View outperformed its local district by 1 percentage point overall, outperformed its closest schools in every subject and by 4 percentage points overall, and outperformed the state in every subject and by 2 percentage points overall.

Melissa Mendez runs with a student
Melissa Mendez also coaches the running club at Mountain View Academy.

Mendez attributed several factors to helping students improve test scores. She put in countless hours after school tutoring, even during virtual learning. She found success with center rotation (small groups), allowing her time to tailor instruction to each individual, and intervention groups. She also incorporated a Candyland-like game where students have to move spaces and solve a problem or Math War, where the largest fraction or the largest answer to a multiplication problem wins.
Another approach Mendez has taken is to give students a voice and provide choices in her classroom. Students take attendance and check on each other’s work. Instead of center rotation, they can choose an option from the choice board.
 Melissa Mendez working with students
Fourth Grade Teacher Melissa Mendez has been with Mountain View Academy since it opened in 2020.

They also help teach, and each day a student is named Teacher of the Day. In helping lead the class, students gain confidence, connect with each other in a different way, and figure out how to make learning fun, Mendez said.
“I like to give students more of a choice because I feel like if they have the choice in the matter of what they’re doing, they're going to try more,” she said.
 Melissa Mendez smiling

Mendez works to get to know students to show them she’s there for them and cares about their studies. “That’s half the battle,” she says. When they make great strides, whether it’s improving multiple levels on state test scores or going from struggling with multiplication to doing problems with double-digit numbers and enjoying it, it makes those successes that much sweeter.
“I love seeing that joy come out of them,” she said. “Just to see them start to like it and they’re asking for more problems, that just makes my heart happy.”
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Mendez!

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About Mountain View Academy
Mountain View Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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