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One Mountain View Educator's Passion for Student Empowerment

Melissa Calcara always wanted to teach fourth grade, so it comes as no surprise that she became a fourth-grade teacher at Mountain View Academy. She loves the grade because they’re at an age where they aren’t as moody as older students, but they’re still independent and she can joke with them.
While she loves a good joke in the classroom, she is most passionate about empowering her students.
“When I was in high school, I had one teacher who actually took the time to get to know me and make me feel confident in my knowledge,” said Ms. Calcara. “It was the first time I tried, and it was the first time I got an A in a class. From there on, I grew my confidence and achieved straight A’s all through high school and into college. I just want my students to feel like they can achieve the same thing.”

Ms. Calcara reflects that a lot of students feel the stress of perfection. She chips away at that feeling by sharing her own experiences so her students can see she is not perfect either and even encourages her students to call out her mistakes and to make their own.

Mountain View students in class

“I make mistakes in the classroom, sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose, so they can see I am not perfect,” she said. “I tell my students, ‘pobody is nerfect’, and that is what makes life fun and how we learn and grow.”
Noticing the anxiety some students get when they get something wrong, she strives to give them the ability to feel confident in front of class. One way she empowers her students to feel confidence is through “Teacher of the Day” once or twice a week.
She implemented Teacher of the Day to teach her class responsibility, grow respect, and see what it’s like to be a teacher. While most of her students end up saying, “teaching is very hard” by the end of the day, they learn a lot from the experience.

“I try to have everyone be teacher at least once, but it is something they have to earn and expectations are set in place on what they should and should not do,” said Ms. Calcara.

As Teacher of the Day, students get to keep an eye on their peers and their behaviors, help manage the class, teach what they know on the board, lead good news during circle time, share strategies for the curriculum, call on friends, fetch band aids when needed, and build confidence.

“It is fun to see they whole class listen to the Teacher of the Day with attention and respect,” said Ms. Calcara. “They call the teacher by Ms. or Mr. and their last name. One of my teachers made the class try lining up three times because they were 'too noisy’.”

At the end of the day, the teacher gets to pick a student to be “Yeti of the Day”, or someone who has shown Moral Focus virtues and has participated. They tell Ms. Calcara who they choose, and she usually agrees with them. She believes this part of the activity helps her students become more aware of their surroundings, each other, and their own actions. While she likes having a helper for the day, her favorite part is watching their confidence flourish.

Melissa Calcara Mountain View teacher

Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Calcara!