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Faculty Highlight – Melissa Martin

What is your role at Cushman?

4th Grade Teacher/STEAM Teacher

How long have you been working at Cushman?

I’ve been at Cushman for almost 10 years.

Tell us about your role at Cushman.

This upcoming year, I will be teaching students from nursery through 5th grade STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math). These project-based classes will supplement what they are learning in their core classes as well as science lab and art class.

Can you give us an example of an activity that helped hone your professional skills?

Educating others has been a part of who I am from a very young age. I was 14 when I started teaching gymnastics classes to younger children. I was a high-level gymnast at the time and was happy to share my knowledge of the sport. I continued teaching gymnastics until only three years ago. I am also a certified judge of the sport and have enjoyed judging events in South Florida.

Please share an educational experience that has aided in your instruction?

I studied abroad in Costa Rica in 1998 where I found a real love of the country, language and environment. After I graduated from the University of Iowa in Environmental Bio-Science in 1999, I returned to Costa Rica to live and work, primarily in the cloud forests of Monteverde. I worked as the Environmental Education Teacher for grades 1-8 in a school called the Creative Learning Center (Centro de Educacion Creativa). I also worked at the local Quaker School as well as for the Nature Conservancy doing bird mapping using GIS software. The last position I had there was as a sea turtle conservationist where we measured, tagged and recorded female sea turtles when laying eggs on the beach. We would also move the nests closer to our camp to protect the hatchlings from local poachers. I learned to speak, read and write Spanish and made long-lasting friendships.

From there, I visited Peru, Bolivia and Chile for two months before moving to Portland, Oregon, in the spring of 2002 where I had always wanted to live. Jobs were hard to find at that moment as the nation was still grappling with the recent events of 9-11. For the three years there, I worked as a manager at a Cuban Restaurant (Pambiche) where you had to speak Spanish to the guests and staff. It was a perfect place to refine my Spanish skills, enjoy the outdoors and, again, make long-lasting friendships. It was a surprise to meet a large Cuban community so far from their native country! I learned a lot about Cuba and it seemed to pave the way for my next journey to Miami so I drove from Oregon to Florida with a pit-stop in my hometown Sioux City, Iowa.

Once in Florida, I began teaching gymnastics and also began working with Dade County Public Schools as a Middle School Science teacher. I also completed my Master’s in Educational Leadership in 2008. I taught at Country Club Middle School for six years before joining Cushman in 2013 after my son, Ollie, was born. Both Ollie and I have truly enjoyed our time at The Cushman School where we have created long-lasting friendships and memories.

Why are you glad to be an educator at Cushman?

The Cushman School is a unique community with very friendly and extremely talented faculty and staff. I love the Cushman philosophy and love that we have the opportunity to teach creatively in the classroom. The traditions and values are deeply rooted in our school and the enrichment classes significantly impact the student’s overall learning experience.