Degrees and Certifications:
BSIS Degree Major(s): Education Mathematics MS Degree Major: -Educational Administration Texas Educator Certifications: -Mathematics: 1st through 12th Grade -Standard: 1st through 8th Grade -Special Education: EC-12th Grade -Mathematics/Physical Sciences/Engineering: 6th through 12th Grade -Computer Science 6-12 -Principal: EC-12th Grade
Mrs. Melissa L. Bennett
September 1983 was the first day I walked through the school house doors in Sunnyvale. I was new to kindergartner that year, and I remember vividly feeling both excited and nervous about what “real” school would be like. Transitioning from home to school in Sunnyvale was easy for me, but I didn’t know it at the time...
I could feel my face turn bright red, as I looked at all the other kids staring at me, sitting anxiously on Mrs. Barker’s floor when I walked in the classroom. Feelings rushed through my head, BUT what stands out the most is how confused I was. I didn't know how to act. Mrs. Barker was more than just my kindergarten teacher, she was my neighbor and my brother’s best friend’s mom!!! As if that wasn’t interesting enough, I had two older sisters already in the district who could tell me exactly how thing were done in SISD and I can't forget my twin brother who was right beside me every single step of the way.
Sunnyvale was my hometown, a tight knit community. My mom was the PTA president of the elementary and middle school and my parents were involved! They pretty much had to be, because the entire school, K-8, only had a little over 300 students back in those days, but to me it seemed BIG, and it became my world for the next 9 years of my life.
In 1992 my twin brother and I were given the honor of Mr. and Mrs. Sunnyvale, shortly before we said our good-byes to our dear school friends of many years. Our 8th grade class would go separate ways, splitting between Poteet High School and North Mesquite High School. How we longed for Sunnyvale to have its own high school, but although the anticipation was there, the reality wouldn’t come until many years later… So, we made the transition to what I thought was a “HUGE” school.
Poteet gave us so many opportunities including amazing extra-curricular activities. Somehow, even at a much larger school, my mother still managed to be heavily involved in the PTA, and I was vested in the school and with my classmates too. I played competitive and school basketball, ran track and cross-country, competed in Odyssey of the Mind-Structure Team, joined Distributors Education Club of America (DECA), participated in FCA, and I was nominated to be one of the Senior Class Representatives.
I graduated from Poteet High School in 1996, and I set-off for college at Abilene Christian University. After considering marriage to my high school sweetheart, who is now my current husband, Kyle, and after changing my degree plan from business finance to math/education, I transferred to Texas A&M University-Commerce. The commute was hard living in Mesquite, and I was a full time student who worked a part time job throughout my college years. Therefore, I frequently took advanced mathematics courses at other colleges like the University of Texas at Dallas. I loved learning, so I took many courses above and beyond my degree program including but not limited to: computer science courses and additional science courses for science majors. I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree and a 3.8GPA on a 4.0 scale in May of 2000. In August of 2000, I began my teaching career, in Mesquite ISD working as a middle school 7th and 8th grade mathematics teacher at Agnew Middle School.
While teaching, I didn't stop learning. I continued taking STEM related undergraduate courses, as well as master’s degree classes in educational administration in the evenings, primarily at UTD and TAMU-Commerce. I earned my master’s degree in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2006, barely slowing down during those busy years to have my first two children: Kaydee and Drew.
After teaching 5 years of middle school mathematics, I went on to teach mathematics at the high school level at West Mesquite High School and later Poteet High School between Fall of 2005- Spring of 2012. I taught Algebra 1, Algebra, 2, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus to both the general education and to the gifted students. I also volunteered every other day to help in the content mastery lab so I could assist some of the special education students with their math work.
I had my third child, Daniel, in 2009, and shortly thereafter I completed additional graduate classes and worked on a one year educational administration internship, which allowed me to earn my principal certification in 2012. However, at that time in my life, I wasn’t interested in becoming a campus administrator. I loved working closely with curriculum and instruction, and I took on extra leadership opportunities at the district level while continuing to teach in Mesquite ISD. This experience eventually guided me out of the classroom to Region 10 Education Service Center, where I worked as an instructional math coach for multiple campuses and I became a professional development writer and presenter at both the regional and state level in Texas. I specialized in assisting with school improvement programs, with improving secondary mathematics curriculum/instruction, and help with the training and implementation of the new math TEKS.
After about a year and two summers working at Region 10 ESC, I was given an opportunity to take a step back, to work in my home town with less travel demands. I jumped on the opportunity to work in the district where I was raised, where I live, and where my 3 kids attended school. In 2013, I signed my contract and began working as a math teacher in Sunnyvale ISD, but with much younger 5th grade students. After 2 years working with 5th graders as a math teacher, the doors opened for me again. I was given a chance to return to teaching at the high school level. It was a creative and exciting position that would allow me to use my knowledge of curriculum and instruction, my expertise in applied mathematics, and my STEM interdisciplinary background to grow and advance the high school STEM program at SHS. I jumped on the opportunity. I obtained additional state certification in: engineering, physical sciences (Chemistry/Physics/Physical Sciences), and Computer Science.
This year will be my third year working with STEM education, and I will be teaching: Computer Science 1, Computer Science 2, Principles of Applied Engineering, Scientific Research and Design, Engineering Design and Presentation, and Engineering Design and Problem Solving while managing the SHS STEM program. Outside of the classroom, while juggling mommy duties, I coach the UIL Computer Science team and I extend my student's participation in our co-curricular STEM competitions, which often take some nights and weekends.
I look forward to getting to know my new STEM students, and seeing my precious students who return dedicated to helping me grow the STEM program in Sunnyvale. I can't wait to embark on another exciting year in my adventures as an educator.