Melissa EatonMelissa Eaton

2009 EDC graduate
Second Grade Teacher, Elkins Primary School
2011-12 recipient, Elkins Primary Teacher of the Year

What was your experience like at JBU?

My time at JBU was wonderful and frustrating. As I was going through the program, there were so many times I said ‘I can’t do this’ because I was working full-time, doing the program, I had three small children… I just kept thinking ‘I’m never going to get there.’ My time in the EDC program gave me the ability to prioritize what needed to be done, to get it done, and to get it done well. It prepared me to deal well with the constant change in the actual school environment. That has been huge. I taught for a year and a half in fourth grade, and at the end of last year they moved me to second grade. I really liked fourth grade, but because of my experience at JBU and dealing with all the facets of the program, I was prepared to roll with the punches. Here I am, and I love it!

Was there a professor you had at JBU who you felt really prepared you for the classroom?
Phyllis Redding prepared me for teaching literacy, especially with the particular group of students that I had this year. She equipped me with the tools that I needed to find interventions for my underperforming kids. She was awesome!

Did you find that the classes were applicable to the real school setting?
Absolutely. The content is right on target with common core. That has been a big thing in the last two-and-a-half years since I started. We’re implementing it this year, and the curriculum at JBU was already there. They were already teaching it and pushing us in that direction, so it hasn’t been as big of a change for me as it has been for some of the other teachers.

What was it like to be a member of a cohort?
We developed such a bond; it’s a bond that cannot be described in words. One of the biggest things that I remember is: when I was having a down day, when I didn’t think I could go on, somebody else was having a really good day, and he or she would say, ‘Yes! You can do it!’ We were emailing each other all the time, calling each other, and even now – two-and-a-half years later – we still keep in touch through Facebook and email. If one of us runs into a challenge in our classroom, we email each other for ideas on how to handle it. It’s just such a support network. You become like a family. I can’t imagine going through the EDC program without my cohort.

What would you tell prospective students about the JBU program?
When you leave, you will be incredibly prepared for whatever is thrown at you in the classroom.

Do you think you made the right choice in choosing teaching as a career?
Absolutely. I know beyond and shadow of a doubt that I’m called into what I’m doing. I thought that at the beginning of the EDC program, and as we went through the classes and professors, they began each class with prayer, and they were praying specifically for us, that we would know what our futures held. And as I went through the program, more and more, I got the affirmation that I was doing the right thing. And now that I’m here, in my own classroom, there are no words to describe knowing that I’m right where God wants me to be.