MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. — One Grissom High School alum says she's living the dream by teaching biology and inspiring the next generation of scientists. She's taken her talents to Marshall County! Meet this week's Valley's Top Teacher, Melissa Kunze, from Arab High School!
Teaching has been Kunze’s dream job for 17 years and counting. “It's my dream job,” she said. “When I was a freshman at Grissom High School, I just devoured biology. I loved my teacher. I loved the course, and my mom, who was a teacher, she said, ‘You know, I know what you're gonna be when you grow up. You're probably going to be a biology teacher,’ ” added Kunze.
Although she’s from Huntsville, Kunze decided to extend her love for teaching outside the Rocket City. “These are remarkable students, and it’s a remarkable community. This community invests so much into every single student. The faculty here is top notch.”
Like a lot of teachers, teaching during COVID was most challenging. “It was actually one of my better years because the students and I, we’ve learned resiliency, grit, perseverance so it was great life lessons that we’ve learned along that year.”
COVID also became part of her biology lessons. “We have a lot of misinformation being brought in by students and they really needed the biological sciences explained to them, so we would have COVID chats and Neil Lamb at HudsonAlpha put out these great science talks and so we watched him.”
"I bought my students the whole the class lab coats. Some are tie-dye, some are professional white looking. But I bought them because I wanted them. When we go into lab, to really feel like scientists. When they have that lab coat on, you just see them elevate to this level of this is important. This is critical. What we're doing in lab, we're doing real-life lab work," added Kunze.
Here’s what keeps Kunze motivated each year:
“I don’t have children, and so I have this never-ending love for all of these students. I still have students in college, out of college, that still call me and still want to connect. I have a counseling degree, as well, and so that really kicked in when COVID came because the social, emotional learning was so crucial, and those kids just really needed someone, a safe adult to talk to and I’m glad that it’s me.”
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