Powhatan High School
Melissa has spread her love of reading, learning, and making to all in the Powhatan High School community. Inspired by her enthusiasm and dedication, her colleagues have dubbed her an “evangelibrarian”: “one who seeks to convert students and teachers alike to be staunch patrons of the school library.”
In just two years, Melissa has transformed the physical space of the Powhatan High School Library Learning Commons. Prior to her arrival at the school, STEAM and maker items sat unused in a small, inaccessible side room—after Melissa converted her own office into welcoming makerspace, students and teachers have flocked to the space as a hub for creativity. She also secured grant funding to create flexible seating areas featuring flip tables in the library, to ensure the space would meet the student body’s varied needs.
Melissa’s commitment to partnerships and service has connected her students with their broader local community. She worked with PHS carpentry classes to implement free little libraries around Powhatan; under Melissa’s leadership, students identified potential locations and constructed the libraries themselves. She also collaborated with students and the local public library to bring a day of STEAM learning to area preschoolers using a 3D printer from the school makerspace.
Melissa has also strived to promote a culture of literacy for readers of all levels. Melissa researched students’ preferences through reader surveys and “book tastings,” then used her findings to stock classroom book carts with materials tailored to student interests. For reluctant readers and students reading below grade level, Melissa has curated compelling collections of Hi-Low books, novels in verse, graphic novels, and manga—as a result, students who used to feel anxious visiting the library can now find options they enjoy.