Meet the Teacher: Melissa Stanger, Dowagiac Union High School/Middle School

Educators are perhaps the greatest population of unsung heroes in Berrien and Cass County. This school year, Leader Publications will publish a weekly spotlight featuring teachers throughout the district, giving the community a chance to get to know the hard-working individuals shaping their children’s lives. Throughout the next school year, their answers will be published in the newspaper that serves each school district.

Name: Melissa Stanger

School: Dowagiac Union High School and Dowagiac Middle School

Grade(s)/subject(s) taught: Eighth-12th grade Spanish 1

Where did you attend college? University of Illinois — Urbana/Champaign (B.A. Teaching of Spanish), Northern Illinois University (M.A. Spanish Language and Literature)

How many years have you been teaching? How many years have you been with your current school? I have been teaching for 21 years. This is my seventh year at DMS/DUHS. I’ve also taught at a high school in Illinois, Southwestern Michigan College, St. Mary’s College and Davenport University.

Why did you decide to become a teacher? I love the Spanish language and the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, and I love sharing them with others. I also had great Spanish teachers that inspired me.

Outside of school, what do you enjoy doing for fun? I love traveling, spending time with my family, reading and shopping.

What is one thing your students may not know about you? If I wasn’t a teacher, I would either be a tour guide that travels around the world with school groups, or I would open an animal rescue.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Snoopy is my favorite. He’s cute and funny.

When you were a student in the grade you teach, what were your favorite hobbies? I loved to dance — ballet, tap, jazz.

How would your co-workers describe your teaching style and personality? Hopefully they would describe me as kind and enthusiastic.

Who is your biggest role model and why? My parents are my biggest role models. They taught me to be open-minded, kind and compassionate. They always stressed the importance of doing my best.

How has education changed in the last 10 years? There are more demands on students from outside the classroom.

What is your best advice to parents to help their child continue growing academically? Be involved with your child’s education and always encourage him/her to give 110 percent.

If my students learn one thing this year, I hope it is… Be open-minded. The world is a big place with lots of different people, languages and cultures. Learn all that you can about those people and places. It will make you a more compassionate person.

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