Last year I had to write a piece on my contribution to my school as an educator. I’ve always found first person too self-conscious so I wrote this instead…
An Ongoing Commitment to Education
MELPOMENE SELEMIDIS arrived in Australia from the Northern villages of Greece with her family at the age of two to begin a new life in the ‘lucky country’. At Primary school they changed her name to Melanie because they could neither spell nor pronounce her ancient Greek mythological name. She worked hard at school to learn English whilst studying Greek afterschool and speaking to her parents in their other mother tongue- Macedonian.
She excelled in English and Social Studies at school as her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic. Her teachers at Thomastown High changed her life during STC when they encouraged her to study at University and to be an independent learner who broadened her horizons. She wanted to be able to make that sort of difference in students’ lives too. She wanted to inspire others to do their best, aspire to higher education and to become independent learners.
Melanie thrived in the educational environment, loving to learn and to pass on that enthusiasm for learning. She was made permanent in her first year out shortly after a brief ET stint at Reservoir High. For the first five years Melanie threw herself into teaching and extra curricular programs such as theatrical productions. She decided to study a post-grad Drama in Education Diploma at Melbourne Uni part- time whilst working full-time over three years. In that same period she also gained her VICFIT Fitness Leader qualification from RMIT enabling her to also teach Health. After 5 years of teaching Junior English, Sose and Drama and VCE English she decided she needed more challenges so she took leave and set off to rediscover her roots in Greece.
She obtained a job in a language school in Thessaloniki and faced many challenges as a foreigner all alone in a new city without proficiency in the native language. She soaked it up all and learnt a great deal about life, language, culture and belonging. She realized how satisfying it was teaching English as a second language, particularly as her experience of language acquisition as a migrant, then as a foreigner in her homeland allowed her to develop insights and strategies that would greatly benefit her literacy teaching. On her return to Australia she successfully applied for a scholarship to study TESL (Teaching English as a second language) at Deakin University and enjoyed the rewarding and challenging new faculty she was now teaching in.
Over the years she constantly took on new challenges, new subjects and enjoyed her constant learning of new subjects and skills. She was an active participant in school productions for 18 years, devising, rehearsing, supervising and applying make-up. She took on Coordinator positions in Integration and Drama with professionalism and conscientiousness.
Late last year after success with difficult classes using Poetry writing she decided the time was right now that the kids were older and her husband was home nights, to study again so she completed Poetry and Short story writing courses to return to her writing. She continues to pursue a literary life and has had her poetry published in Journals and Anthologies. She is writing a novel based on myths and is undertaking a Poetry masterclass course at the Victorian Writers Centre as well as a Masters in Education degree in Teacher Librarianship so that she can spread her enthusiasm for books to more students.
She undertakes regular and rigorous professional development including digital storytelling, which she integrates into her teaching and shares with staff at faculty meetings through multimodal presentations. She has started a poetry/book/writing club, which she believes will foster and develop literacy and encourage students to see themselves as writers and readers with something worthwhile to share and publish on the World Wide Web. She’s excited to be a part of the social/digital media revolution and to engage and enthuse her students with new learning technologies and pedagogy focusing on literacy, technology and literature.
She continues to challenge herself and her students to communicate better, to learn more and to share that knowledge. School is a home away from home and the school community is extended family.