Melyssa Ferro, a science teacher at Syringa Middle School, never imaged becoming a teacher – let alone receiving the 2015 Caldwell Teacher of the Year award and the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Growing up in a family with both parents as educators, she thought teaching wasn’t going to be for her.
“My standard line as a kid – I was going to become anything but a teacher,” Ferro said. “I always knew I wanted to go into a science career.”
After graduating from Caldwell High School, she attended Boise State University to study laboratory science. Ferro took education classes as electives and found a passion.
“The more time I spent at the university trying to figure myself out as a person, the more I realized I couldn’t really see myself doing anything but teaching,” Ferro said. “It became important to me to help grow the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and secondary education. Ferro went on to receive her master’s in middle level education from Walden University.
Ferro has spent the last 16 years teaching students in the Caldwell School District. Her focus is to get kids engaged with hands-on science.
“I’m all about forming partnerships and I think education is collaborative,” Ferro said. “I can’t do it all myself and my students will learn so much better if I can bring other people in from the community.”
Shay Swan, principal at Syringa Middle School, nominated Ferro for Teacher of the Year and believes she is a master teacher in the classroom.
“She works above and beyond to supply advance opportunity for kids,” Swan said. “She works tirelessly to have the kids exposed to different science experiences – leading the Habitat H2O Florida trip and taking the kids to Yellowstone to learn about science.”
Caiti Worwood, a senior at Caldwell High School, describes her former teacher as brilliant.
“I got the chance to go to Florida with Mrs. Ferro on the Habitat H2O to learn about marine biology and now I want to study in that field,” Worwood said. “She has impacted my schooling a lot.”
In July, Ferro was honored by President Obama in Washington, D.C., and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She was selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Ferro received a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
“To have people who sit on President Obama’s advisory council asking you for input about science and math education was an extremely powerful experience,” Ferro said. “I’m doing what I set out to do every day when I come into my classroom – inspire and motivate Caldwell kids.”