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Palm Coast Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 2 years ago

Melissa Irving – Belle Terre Elementary Teacher of the Year

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She teaches in a standing classroom.
by: Jacque Estes Community Editor

Melissa Irving grew up in Flagler County. She attended Bunnell Elementary and graduated from Flagler Palm Coast High School. She knew one day she would be a teacher.

“When I was in the second grade my dad installed a blackboard in our garage,” she said. “My teacher would give me extra work sheets and manipulatives, and I would come home and teach my sisters. When I was at FPC I enrolled in the teacher assistant class, would get out at 1:30, and go to Old Kings and Bunnell elementary schools. I always wanted to be a teacher, and I knew I’d come back to Flagler.”

She has 12 years teaching experience, most in Flagler. She and her husband moved to Boston in 2009, but came home. When she returned jobs were scarce, but she was hired at Belle Terre Elementary.

Irving has a standing desk classroom, the first in the county, and one of the first in the country.

“Ergotron donated the desks as a pilot program, and visited the class at least three times the first year,” Irving said. “I hope never to go back to a traditional setting. Over the years I have always had my kids up and out of their seats as much as possible, because they are kids.”

Irving taught fourth grade last year, and moved up with her students to the fifth grade.

“The students I have are engineers. They like hands-on projects.”

Irving asked her students to compare how a computer works to the human body.

“The central processing unit was the brain, the fan was our sweat glands and the disc drive was the mouth. The things they came up with were very interesting,” she said.

Irving challenged the class to make gingerbread houses using littleBits (small electronic components).

“What they came up with astounded me,” she said. “One group built a Santa trap with a motion detector and a speaker alarm. Another group used a little motor to have a Christmas tree spinning around.”

Irving made it a two-fold project, combing the robotics with an introduction to decimals. The children wrote invoices, purchased supplies and kept checkbooks.

“We have so much fun, but it’s a lot of hard work,” she said. “If they want to have the fun, they have to show me they understand the concept behind it.”

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