Bethel Regional High School’s own Lynn Mellor is this year’s Lower Kuskokwim School District Teacher of the Year. KYUK caught up with the English teacher in her classroom this week to find out what it takes to earn the distinguished title.
Lynn Mellor has spent the past 14 years teaching at Bethel Regional High School, and becoming Teacher of the Year was never her main objective. At the last teacher in-service meeting Mellor was shocked and humbled by the announcement.
“Everyday I feel like I get to – I get to work with amazing people,” said Mellor. “My students are incredible people, and some of them are people who are overcoming immense challenges and obstacles and doing incredible things, and will do incredible things with their life, and it’s really cool to be a part of that.”
Originally from Illinois, Ms. Mellor teaches eleventh and twelfth grade language arts. She’s always wanted to be a teacher and live in Alaska.
“I was either going to be a teacher or an astronaut, and astronaut didn’t work out and teaching did, so I just always wanted to be one,” said Mellor.
That ambition drew the Midwestern farm girl from New England to Alaska.
“I was teaching in Connecticut and I got frustrated with my job there, and so I started looking online, and Barb Dean hired me in 2004, and so I’m still here,” said Mellor.
Before teaching in the U.S., Mellor was in the Peace Corps, teaching English in Latvia.
“It kind of helped me to develop an ability to talk to students in a way that’s still adult/student, but be able to connect with them,” said Mellor.
It’s this connection that the District saw as Mellor’s biggest strength, along with her commitment to student success. In a press release on the district website, LKSD highlighted Mellor's making extra time to be available to learners seeking credit recovery or helping students write their college entrance essays.
“I’ve worked with Drama and Student Council and, like, my first year I chaperoned a random basketball trip because the coach was sick, so just different things that you get to be a part of," said Mellor. “And you want it to exist, someone needs to do it, and that person can be you if you want to.”
It’s her infectious joy in connecting with community that 16-year-old student Hunter Carter has come to love.
“I’m super happy,” said Carter. “Like, this is my first class with Ms. Mellor and I could tell that she deserved this award.”
Carter points to the learning environment in Mellor’s classroom, where students have fun while they learn and even if a student is upset or acting out, she sits down to talk them through it.
“She’s very understanding of students, and that just all contributes to the positive atmosphere she has in this class,” said Carter. “And so I’m really happy, like, when I found out that she got this award, and it’s sitting right there; I was really happy about it.”
Carter smiles and points to Mellor’s Teacher of the Year plaque sitting on a filing cabinet next to her desk.
“Because it’s cool to see that, you know, teachers who put in this hard work are getting the recognition they deserve like she is. She wasn’t doing all this hard work for recognition. She’s doing it for us and it just so happens that she got recognized for it, which is great,” said Carter. “That’s why I love Ms. Mellor.”
2018 is also looking pretty good for Ms. Mellor, who’s set to marry Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yup’ik immersion School Principal Zach Bastoky on May 26 in what she is happily looking forward to as “a very Bethel wedding.” Congratulations Ms. Mellor.