Melisa Hayes, a 2nd grade teacher at Hilliard City Schools in Ohio, knows how to engage kids in project-based learning so they build confidence in themselves. Melisa is a two-time cancer survivor, ambassador for Flip, Night Zookeeper and Wakelet, Global teacher of 2020, Teach Better Ambassador and shares amazing projects with educators worldwide.
My WHY has really never changed but evolved more and more each year. I am extremely passionate about inclusion.I feel every child no matter the age or ability must be included within their classroom family. This includes projects, hall displays, and more. It’s our job to make sure every family member feels loved and successful within their family. I also am very passionate about engagement and making memories. It is my job to make each and every year the most memorable for each of my kids. A child’s enthusiasm and laughter is the best gift a teacher can ever have! It’s the most rewarding. Knowing our kids are loved, feeling successful and belonging is so essential. I want to know that if my kids had a choice whether to come to school or not they wouldn’t even hesitate. They would be so elated and curious as to what we would be learning each day.
What it was like growing up
I grew up in a rural community where everyone knew everyone, doors were never locked and we had one gas station. I walked to elementary school which was K-5. Back then (yes, I’m that old) you were constantly in your seat and the learning was directed by the teacher. There was worksheets and little to no collaboration. As a learner I struggled and was even in title reading. I wasn’t thrilled with school but loved the sports: basketball, softball and kickball at recess:) I was a vocal learner who always had something to say which is why in 1st grade I was constantly told to go to my corner. Yep, I had my own corner since I was unable to work quietly. It wasn’t until 3rd grade with Mrs. Evans where my learning changed and I started to like school. I felt heard and that my voice mattered. It was then that I was introduced to collaboration, engagement and projects. Mrs. Evans was so creative and really made school memorable. From that moment on I knew I wanted to change the school narrative and be the type of teacher that pushed the boundaries.
Loving life even with challenges
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, the good & the bad. It all started about 5 years ago, 2018, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and radiation. During radiation they found a lump in my thyroid. Due to all that was going on I put that on the back burner. My breast cancer was estrogen based so I took Tamoxifen. Due to the Tamoxifen I found out I had precancerous cells in my cervix so they recommended having a hysterectomy which I had in 2019.. Then in 2021 I had surgery on my thyroid and it was indeed thyroid cancer. They removed the whole thyroid. I never take a day or second for granted.
I LOVE life and my favorite quote is
“Life is better, when you’re laughing” author unknown.
I’ve been happily married to my husband, Daniel for 23 years. We have 2 beautiful daughters. Madison (Maddy) who will be 20 in February and is a sophomore at Ohio University majoring in social work. Abigail (Abby) is 15 and a freshman in high school. Abby has Down Syndrome which definitely doesn’t DEFINE her. She is smart, sassy, gorgeous with a hilarious sense of humor. I am even more passionate about inclusion and sharing her story that kids with DS are so much more than their diagnoses. Lastely, I’m extremely close with my mom and dad. I also have 2 brothers who I adore to annoy:)
Becoming a Teacher
I have always wanted to be a teacher. I think Mrs. Evans ignited a fire in me that has yet to be extinguished. I have taught for over 20 years and each year still feels like my first. I still get nervous and excited. I couldn’t imagine having a more rewarding profession! I even remember being in the surgeon’s office scheduling my lumpectomy for my breast cancer and asking him to wait a month because I wanted to meet my kids, get to know them and start the year off getting to know my family. It really is the BEST profession.
Cinderella STEM Activity
Sharing Kids Projects
Projects my kids and I love to do are mystery zooms: kids zoom all over the world with amazing people and guess their state or country; genius hour: passion projects which they present on throughout the year, classroom transformations: weather – reporting the weather where they live by using Flip and Twitter gain temps all around the globe. They gather this data and graph it using the numbers app, Student Led Conferences, Vet clinic – Kids bring in stuffy and each is a vet that provides a service for the other’s stuffed ANIMAL
Vet Clinic Project
They treat and then give the bill where the other pays and lastly the customer fills out a customer survey on Flip to share how the vet did during the visit., 100 GLOW day review of our 100 days of school, Super Bowl, breakouts, STEAM, fashion show focusing on descriptive writing, Reader’s Theater, Animal research, Kindness Projects: holiday, World Kindness Day, Kindness Project, & more…)
World Kindness Day
Fashion Show “Project Runway”
Creator #Zoomsnaps During the zoom we learn all about our guest or class of friends. Kids ask questions and guess their state or country then ask questions to get to know the guest as well as the state. Next, I pick 2 kids to google pics of the facts we learned for example: California is known for Disney so they google Disney and get a pic. After that, they use the app PicCollage & showcase pics of the state or country. They also showcase our class pic with the guests. Finally they add the #zoomsnaps to the PicCollage. We have them all on a Wakelet. It’s great for kids who can’t remember the zoom or what the state was known for. What gives you energy, shows you that you can makes learning fun.
Mystery Zoom and #Zoomsnaps
Continuing to make memories with my 2nd graders, co-presenting with my BFF at ISTE and also hoping to present again at Teach Better Conference in late fall of this year.
Melisa’s Contact Information
Hope you enjoyed the conversation with Melisa Hayes on my virtual porch! Please share with your friends this post which Melisa helped create that includes her why, loads of stories, classroom projects, and tips .
Make sure you check out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and each post that the guests created. Click the logo below or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about Barbara’s book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.