IU freshmen aren’t the only ones starting a new adventure this semester – recent School of Education graduates also begin their journeys as first-year teachers. We will be profiling these alumni as they begin a career of changing lives through teaching. This profile is written by Kevin Melrose, a 7th and 8th grade teacher at Northwest Middle School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
My job is a daily adventure. Every day presents a new challenge. While some of the hurdles that are presented in front of me appear easy to overcome, most are a repeated, daily struggle.
I currently teach 7th and 8th grade Social Studies at Northwest Middle School, which belongs to Indianapolis Public Schools. We serve a predominantly Black and Latinx population that almost entirely qualifies for free or reduced lunch. There are many aspects of teaching that the School of Education tried to prepare me for, but many challenges cannot be fully grasped until dealt with head on. These kids come from broken homes, live with violence in many forms, and adversity around every corner; however, despite the baggage and problems the kids bring, I have nothing but a deep love and compassion for the children. I have had to break up fights, be a shoulder to cry on, stick up for my kids, defend my values in a public forum, yet I still manage to come to school with a smile on my face. Every day is not easy. Every day is not a victory, but these are the kids that need not only a teacher, but a role model. Someone that they can authentically look up to for guidance, someone who will stick up for them when they make mistakes, someone who will not hold grudges for yesterday’s behavior. These are aspects that sound impossible to prepare any preservice educator, but the School of Education does a wonderful job at getting people into the classroom.
The three aspects of the School of Education that prepared me the most are Global Gateways, Community of Teachers and Urban Needs in Teacher Education (UNITE). Through Global Gateways, I taught in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for 2 months. Global Gateways taught me to adventure, to push my limits, and to most importantly expose myself to ideas I could have previously never imagined. Community of Teachers taught me independence, and this is important because in an inner-city school there is no one to hold your hand. Teachers have to be brave and bold in order to flourish, but they also have to remain humble, which the community forces you to be. Finally, UNITE guided me to this path all along the way. Student organizations, especially ones focused on service, have to be highlighted and showcased to preservice teachers if they are going to succeed in their career. I came to the School of Education thinking I wanted to be a teacher, but UNITE proved to me that I had to be a teacher. It presented me values of community, keeping an open mind, and to care others.
I loved my time at Indiana University's School of Education, and I hope my story can inspire others to continue their stride towards helping spark curiosity in the minds of children.