In Melissa Cormier’s classroom, empowerment is key

Published 9:52 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

Melissa Cormier, 40, has put positivity and patience in the heart of her classroom for 13 years.

She centers her educator’s philosophy around creating a positive and empowering learning environment that encourages students to reach their full potential.

Cormier began her career after earning her Bachelor of Liberal Arts in English with a minor in history in 2005 and alternative certification for middle school English and social studies in 2010 from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette.

She first began teaching sixth grade science and English at Plaisance Elementary School. The next year, she joined the team at Breaux Bridge Junior High to teach seventh and eighth grade English.

She also taught at Scott Middle School’s Alternative Program before moving to Southwest Louisiana.

She spent her first years in Southwest Louisiana teaching at F. K. White Middle School.

Currently, she teaches eighth grade English at Moss Bluff Middle School. “I live in Moss Bluff, so I was thrilled when a position opened.”

At Moss Bluff Middle, she also serves as a Beta co-sponsor and PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support Program) team member, and assists with Moss Bluff Middle’s eighth grade day committee.

In Cormier’s classroom, empowerment is key. She sees student independence as the key to helping them reach their full potential. “They are so impressive when you give them space to share their thoughts, when you step aside and allow them to take ownership of their learning,” she said. “I believe that every student has unique strengths and talents that can be nurtured and developed throughout a supportive educational experience.”

Cormier responsibly incorporates technology into her lessons and has recently become “pretty obsessed” with the online graphic design tool Canva.

Balancing technology and active student productivity can be tricky, Cormier said. “Technology has also been a double-edged sword… and has allowed the students to get distracted,” she explained. “I am trying to find a way to decrease their screen time and still keep kids engaged, but I work with a really great team of teachers.”

The incorporation of independence and technology creates a space that allows the students to “generate ideas, ask thoughtful questions and take an active role in their own learning,” Cormier said.

Instilling these abilities into the next crop of workers is important to Cormier. “We teach our students to think critically, but we also teach them how to have academic discussions and discourse in a productive way…The skills that they learn in the classroom will prepare them for their future.”

“These kids are our future leaders – doctors, lawyers, politicians… Every student that we teach has something great to offer the community. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them,” Cormier said.

She believes that all teachers should strive to focus on the positives in the classroom, as the teacher’s energy affects the students’ energies. “It’s so easy to get sucked into the negativity… try to inject joy into everything you do with the kids. It will help them, but it is also for you, the teacher.”

It is also important for teachers to prioritize their health and believes that finding balance and learning to say “no” is paramount.

“I want to feel joy at my job everyday. Life is too short.”