Skip to main content

Logo: Newport News Public Schools

Model Teachers: 2nd Grade

Model TeacherModel TeacherName: Melissa Hecker
Grade: 2nd Grade
School: Yates Elementary
Years Taught: 14


What do you most love about teaching?
I love teaching because we have the privilege of helping children find their best selves.  Young people possess a wealth of talents, interests and abilities that the world hasn’t yet made apparent to them.  I love that we have the challenge and the responsibility of helping children find their passions.

Why are you passionate about supporting fellow teachers?
I am passionate about supporting fellow teachers because our job is infinitely changing and challenging.  We all benefit from sharing the practices, perspectives, and problems that we encounter as we strive to provide the best we can for every child.  Teachers need to have the opportunity to see and hear a variety of ways to approach each challenge because no two children are alike. We become enriched as we borrow the best from one another, knowing that we are not alone and are supported.

What two words best describe you as a teacher?  Why?
The best way to describe me as a teacher is positive and creative. I passionately believe in the power of positive discipline with children.  Prior to earning a teaching degree, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and worked as an artist.  I love the endless opportunities to be creative in teaching.


Model TeacherModel TeacherName: Kearsten Lee
Grade: 2nd Grade
School: B.C. Charles Elementary
Years Taught: 10


What do you most love about teaching?
The students! Each year I am given an opportunity to meet a new group of children and get to know them as individuals. I love being able to share my love for learning with them. I know I have done my job well when I have students begging to read a new book, asking for more time to write their stories, and cheering when they have a new problem to solve. The students know they are the reason I work hard to do my best each day, and I believe that is why they bring their best to me as well.

What is the best way to describe your classroom on a typical day?
When you enter my classroom, you will see that it is student-centered. Someone once told me, “Never do for a child what they can do for themselves.” The students all have jobs to keep our classroom running smoothly. I see myself as more of a facilitator of lessons and a collector of data. You will see me leading discussions and asking questions, but the students are the ones engaged in making discoveries and sharing their thinking. I have flexible seating, so students can choose where they work best to read and write. It is a place of mutual respect, kindness, and excitement for learning new things. It isn’t very quiet and sometimes it looks messy, but it sure is a lot of fun!

Why do you love working in NNPS?
I love working in NNPS because I get to be a leader and a learner. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow through professional developments, book studies, lesson studies, and more. I always feel supported by the curriculum team, and I have even had some of them co-teach a lesson with me. I feel that I am always learning to better my craft, and I know help is only an email away!

Model TeacherModel TeacherName: Jessica Wingle
Grade: 2nd Grade
School: Palmer Elementary
Years Taught: 5


What do you most love about teaching?
What I love most about teaching are the relationships you build with your students. Every year you get a new group of students with so many different personalities with whom you are able to grow and bond. I also love the ever-changing profession. There always so many new things to learn and take away from other teachers!

Why are you passionate about supporting fellow teachers?
I am passionate about supporting fellow teachers because I know how hard it can be to start as a first year teacher without support. When I started with NNPS I was in my third year of teaching, but I still felt lost being in a new state, school district, and grade level. NNPS really helped by giving me a mentor and teacher coach to support me throughout the year.

Why do you love working in NNPS?
When I first joined NNPS in 2015, I was blown away by the number of opportunities for professional growth. I took advantage of the professional developments, community chats, and classroom visits available throughout the year. I feel like they still continue to help in so many ways.

Model TeacherModel TeacherName: Ashley Nemo
Grade: 2nd Grade
School: Sanford Elementary
Years Taught: 6


What do you most love about teaching?
I love the ability to make a difference in so many kids’ lives.  All of my students know that I am stern with them, but I also love them. I treat them the same way I treat my own children.  When my students develop and obtain the love for reading and all other areas it makes all the “hard” days well worth it.

Why are you passionate about supporting fellow teachers?
I am passionate about helping and supporting fellow teachers because it is so powerful to learn from others.  I wish I had an opportunity to observe other teachers when I was a newbie or struggling with a certain subject or with behavior management.  I learn best when I see others teach or when I see something new put into action by others. Watching others and self–reflecting helps me decide how to teach the same lesson but maybe in a slightly different way or just with my own twist.

What makes NNPS a great school division?
Newport News is a great division to work for as they make sure that we receive training on the newest trends in education. We have PDs offered by fellow educators, including experts like Lester Laminack and Donalyn Miller. Every PD is relevant to our grade levels and subjects taught.

Logo: NNPS Curriculum Department