First grade teacher and 2020 Teacher of the Year at Orvis Risner Elementary, Melissa McMinn has been at the school for three years. She starts each day greeting her students at the door as they make promises to each other and wish each other well. They end each day by sharing their “happies and sads” from the day.
“Melissa McMinn greets each day with a happy ‘can do’ spirit,” said Orvis Risner Principal Penny Gooch. “She never runs away from a challenge. Instead she sees a challenge as an opportunity for growth for herself and her students. When she enters a room both students and staff are attracted to her humor and energy. She is the energy and wisdom to her team and views the 1st grade team's success above her own.”
McMinn received a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Spanish from The University of Oklahoma.
She met her husband, Zac, at the University of Oklahoma and they have been married for 16 years. His job brought Melissa and her family to Edmond. Their three sons include: Preston McMinn, 13, who attends Cimarron Middle School; and Hudson McMinn, 10, and Connor McMinn, 8, who both attend Orvis Risner.
She started her career teaching pre-kindergarten and kindergarten as well as an hour of high school Spanish in Braman for one year. She taught first grade at Trout Elementary School in Ponca City for three years, and first grade at Woodlands Elementary School in Ponca City for two years.
She then took an eight-year break from full-time teaching to raise her three boys.
Melissa said she knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a teacher because she loves to help people understand things they didn’t know.
“In fourth grade I began helping in a first grade classroom and I was hooked,” Melissa said. “My favorite part about teaching is when a student finally gets something they have been working on. I love the light bulb moments!”
She added that her very favorite part about teaching first grade is watching them learn to read.
“There is nothing like the joy on a child’s face when he or she realizes that they can indeed read,” Melissa said.
“I love the growth that happens from the beginning of the year struggles to the end of year (as the students engage in) book reading. We work hard in first grade, but man it is worth it to see kids finding joy in reading.”
As to the most important influence in her life as an educator, Melissa said there are too many to name but the wonderful educators she had as a child as well as the amazing educators she has had the privilege to work with as a teacher would all be included.
“Education is important for students today because they not only learn academic skills, but also learn social and life skills that will help them succeed in the future,” Melissa said.
She hopes every child she teaches knows they are a special, unique child who can do great things.
“My students have taught me how to be a better listener and what it means to love unconditionally,” Melissa said.
In her spare time she watches her boys play sports.
“They all three are currently playing basketball,” Melissa said.
She and her family attend City Presbyterian Church.