By way of proper introduction...
It's nice to know who you're talking to. And I do hope we talk!
My name is Jennifer Meliton and I'm the principal of Greenock and Mt.Vernon Elementary Schools in the Elizabeth Forward School District. EF is a suburban/rural district of about 1500 students located about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We pride ourselves on recreating education to give our students the best possible opportunities for success. You can learn more about us at https://www.efsd.net/
How did I get here? After attending college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (surely all states have towns named after other states) I began my teaching career in 1993 with baptism by fire in Arizona. The state.
At Connolly Middle School in Tempe, Arizona I found teaching partners who became the dearest of friends, a principal who believed in me more than I believed in myself, and kids who taught me much more about life and teaching than I taught them about math, writing, reading, science and social studies.
In 1995 (that sounds so long ago) I relocated back to my hometown of Pittsburgh and joined the staff at Elizabeth Forward as a 7th grade reading teacher. We had an administrator who parents found to be frustrating, and I found myself thinking about my principal at Connolly, who had told me that being an administrator was my calling. I received my masters degree from Duquesne Univeristy, and a few years later guess what? That assistant left. The building principal told me to interview for the job.
Uh, no way. And supervise THESE GUYS? The teachers I taught with? The students I had bonded with? Nope.
As fate would have it I did get that job. But I swore I wouldn't stay there, I mean I wanted to branch out! That was 19 years ago. I spent 4 years as middle school assistant, 6 as middle school principal and 9 as an elementary principal. Yes, this year is my 20th year as an administrator at EF. It's just too amazing to go anywhere else, I'm seriously so lucky. I work with a group of administrators who are so talented and driven. We laugh A LOT. The teachers in my buildings are some of the most ridiculous teacher geeks you can imagine. It's awesome! And my kids? I love them like my own.
For some reason, I started my doctoral coursework at Drexel University in 2016. Raise your hand if you have your doctorate. GOD BLESS YOU.
It's. So. Hard.
We'll save that story for another day, but somewhere between my comps and dissertation defense, something in my life had to go. It was way too much.
Altogether, life today is good. My beautiful daughter Alexa is an Honor's College sophomore at Kent State University's Fashion School. What a program! Since Lex was little we have traveled to 5 countries and all over the US meeting people who aren't like us and seeing places different from where we live. Don't tell her, but when I grow up I want to be her. We're packing her up to go back in a few days. Stay tuned.
Along the way she and I picked up some pets. 2 dogs then a cat. Then another cat. It has to stop there because we're outnumbered and I know under all that cuteness they are plotting against us (me).
After many years of the divorced/single life, I found my other half. Scott can do almost anything. With a masters in performance from Carnegie Mellon University and a slew of equally impressive experiences, he writes code for chemotherapy protocols. So yeah, he tries to cure cancer for a living. Lauren, Christina, Matt and Andrew, his kids, are just as talented.
Life is a symphony every day! [Insert orchestra coming to screeching halt and cymbal crashing to ground here.] Let's be real. Life is hard. School is hard. Managing the challenges of leadership, change, the urgency to increase test scores and do more with less...working with families who are in crisis with drug use, poverty, mental health issues, divorce, violence, grief...dealing with the issues that arise in our own lives...it's a lot. We need to support each other as educators, but also just as people. No matter what side of the aisle you walk down, people need people.
In the end that's why I do what I do.
I love to speak to people. Writing, as evidenced by my early ramblings of triple toe loop dreams, is therapy. Singing is like breathing. Those are the things that feed my soul. God is my anchor and I know Jesus has his arm around me, most of the time with His hand over my mouth!
What do you do and why?
I'm looking forward to meeting you.
Comments and pix!