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Melissa Moberg: Trading Dreams of Figure Skating for a Passion to Teach

Melissa Moberg“I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher since elementary school, when I realized I couldn’t be Michelle Kwan.”

After returning from Transylvania’s inaugural student-teaching program in Panama, Melissa Moberg ’14 recognized she had just completed the educational equivalent of a triple Axel, triple toe loop.

Now she plans to pursue a career teaching 9th to 12th graders. “The kids who look the same age as me,” she laughs. She has accepted a position teaching social studies and AP psychology at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky.

But unlike so many new teachers starting out, she’s beginning her teaching career steeped in the scholarship of her field, history; enriched by the multi-disciplinary world of a liberal arts education; and empowered by experiences in public, private, and international student-teaching.

What does this unique combination produce?

A witty, impassioned, athletic, scholarly, big-hearted, student-driven teacher.

As a student teacher in Fayette County public schools, she encountered “great mentors; very flexible and helpful with their feedback.” She developed important class management skills by working in large classrooms. But as a student teacher in public school, she found very little freedom to be creative. She was asked to follow the established curriculum and unit design to a tee. 

At Balboa Academy in Panama City, Moberg savored her newfound freedom to develop her own curriculum. She loved Balboa’s collaborative model of students working successfully in groups and the opportunities to be creative in her lesson plans.

Moberg delights in talking about Carmen Smith, a teacher and one of the school’s founders, who encouraged—no, insisted—that she fly solo in the classroom. Moberg describes her mentor as fearless, dynamic, dramatic, and intensely loved by her students. “She cared so deeply. She would try everything possible to engage every student.”

Moberg followed her example and then invented her own ways to tap her students’ creativity. In her World Civilizations class, for example, she asked her students to create Facebook and Twitter accounts for Genghis Kahn.

“Balboa was inspiring to me. I brought back many great ideas that I can use with students in Kentucky, because I had the freedom to explore the ideas there.”

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