The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

Teacher Feature: A Conversation with Ms. Melissa McCaleb

Getting to know the AP Lang Teacher and English Department Chair
AP+Lang+teacher%2C+Ms.+McCaleb%2C+pictured+with+some+of+her+students%2C+dressed+as+Hester+Prynne+for+Halloween.+Her+students+were+reading+The+Scarlet+Letter+for+their+first+American+Literature+period%2C+Puritanism.
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AP Lang teacher, Ms. McCaleb, pictured with some of her students, dressed as Hester Prynne for Halloween. Her students were reading “The Scarlet Letter” for their first American Literature period, Puritanism.

Q: What got you interested in wanting to teach?

A: I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was six years old. My uncle was an educator and so he was an influence. As a very young child, I remember teaching my little stuffed animals but the reason I actually got into teaching was because my sophomore-year English teacher was amazing. He really knew how to teach and how to inspire us. 

Q: What is it like being a teacher at Carroll?

A: Oh, I love it. It’s challenging but I love it. It’s challenging in the fact that most of our students go onto four-year colleges – like 98% of them – and as far as the teaching part of it, it’s lovely. Students are engaged and they’re eager to learn. One aspect of the challenging part is the amount or “the load,” especially as an English teacher, on what we have to score. Most English teachers here on campus have about 150 students with multiple assignments going on. Despite the challenge, I absolutely love it. I love it as the English Department Chair and I love it as an AP teacher. It’s a testament to our leadership as well.

Q: Why teach AP?

A: I have taught AP for 25 years. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s something I’ve chosen to teach, it’s more because they need someone to teach AP. I’ve taught all levels of English but based on the fact of my experience and the fact that I’m an AP reader, they need experienced teachers so it’s more of a matter of need over want.

Q: What’s your favorite part about teaching AP?

A: I love that students take the skills and they begin to apply them. Whether that’s to their own reading, to their writing, or to their other classes. Especially on our campus, you can engage in conversations that are meaningful and higher-level. 

 

Q: Is English your favorite subject?

A: Actually, no. I’m super envious of the culinary class. My favorite subject in a perfect world would be culinary because I actually love to cook. I love to prepare meals. I love to read and I love to write but actually, my favorite subject is culinary. I love the preparation part of cooking, such as getting all of the ingredients together. There’s just something therapeutic and cathartic about preparing meals for myself and others that I really enjoy.

I teach with the best of the best teachers. It’s like steel sharpening steel. By far, the best instructors I’ve ever been around and talked to have been at Carroll because they’re good at their game and their subjects.


 

Q: What do you feel that you have gained from being a teacher?

A: I think my favorite part overall about teaching is that I know that I’m teaching skills to students that they can use the next year, into college, grad school, and in life. Sometimes if you have content or a subject, or anything really, there’s an interest there but it’s kind of a “one-and-done” situation. However, in English, and writing especially, I love that the skills are used for the rest of my students’ lives and that they can utilize those skills in whatever area that they go into; either in school or as part of their profession. It’s a necessary and useful skill that applies to many aspects of a career and I love that.

Q: What’s your favorite book?

A: I have two favorites, actually. “The Great Gatsby,” which is a classic that I read as a junior that, even all the decades later, we still teach it. But, as a junior, another of my favorite books that my own English teacher recommended was “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier, a psychological thriller. 

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: Not necessarily content-related but, just to reiterate, I have taught in Arizona, I have taught in Florida, and I have taught in Texas. I’ve probably been in about seven districts and Carroll, by far, is the best district I’ve taught in. Not only is it because we have high expectations and we expect rigor, but the students are kind, caring, hard-working, and motivated. That by proxy, in turn, makes my job easier and more enjoyable in a sense.

Q: How has your experience teaching at Carroll impacted you as a person?

A: It’s impacted me because it’s made me a better teacher because I teach with the best of the best teachers. It’s like steel sharpening steel. By far, the best instructors I’ve ever been around and talked to have been at Carroll because they’re good at their game and their subjects. I feel like we’re all students and we’re all teachers every day. My students teach me something, I teach something to my students but I learn every day from my fellow teachers. There’s no egos or anything like that, we’re all here for the same team and the same reason and that’s for the students.

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About the Contributor
Christine Le, Staff
Christine is a junior at Carroll Senior High School and a first-year member of Dragon Media. Her hobbies include spending time with friends, listening to music and reading. She has a passion for literature and hopes to expand her horizons with journalism.