Friday, February 8, 2013

Interesting Person Interview Series: Melissa Edition

My friend Melissa is up!  She's one of my most loyal blog readers and commenters, and among the first people I shared the URL with when I first started my blog.  Without further ado:

1)       What is your name, and who are you?
Melissa, I am a high school history teacher in Chicago Public Schools.

2)       How do you know Kate?
I met Kate my freshmen year at Xavier High School. I remember sitting in the bathroom with her during the Freshmen Thanksgiving Dance and thinking that she was hilarious and that I wanted to be friends with her. Now almost 15 years later, we still are (and whoa, 15)!

3)       Tell me about a typical day in your life.
I’m normally up between 5:30 and 6. I spend about 30 minutes running around my place and attempting to get myself together, before leaving for the day.

I get to work anywhere from 6:30-7:30 am and since I am a teacher, no day is typical!

I teach five classes (two different subjects) and the down time is spent either in grade level or subject area meetings, with parents, or addressing discipline issues with students. It’s non-stop until the bell rings at 3:15. The only way to describe it is to imagine that you have five, one-hour meetings with your boss every single day, and that’s what it’s like! I’ve become really good at finishing a meal in 10 minutes.

When I say no day is typical I really mean it. Some days I find myself playing a staff/student softball game, other days I’m meeting with a parent because their son shot of a firework in the bathroom (really happened), and some day I’m on an overnight in Wisconsin with 30 students. Things are always interesting.

After school I either run a club that I sponsor, go to some committee meeting that I’m on, or go to evening class (I’m working on my second masters degree right now). If I’m lucky and nothing is going on, I spend time grading or organizing my room.  Students know I’m usually there, so they’ll come and hang out in my room while I work. Sometimes this may include watching something on my Netflix account projected through my LCD…what it’s fun!

Usually I’m home by 5:30-6 and I spend about an hour prepping dinner, responding to e-mails (I don’t have time during the day), and just unwinding.

I go to dance class a few nights a week at 7 or I try to workout in the evening. I use my workout time as a way to watch TV at the gym; it’s how I justify my Bravo addiction. I try to get dinner with a friend one day a week. I can get really wrapped up in my work and have alienated myself on accident in the past. I’ve really tried to avoid that, this school year.

When I get home I shower, then I grade, prep for the next day at school, and attempt to get as much done before bed. Which most nights is at 11 or 12.

Teaching is a lot of work, but it’s good work. The one thing that I wish people understood with teaching is that everything that is done in the classroom, I have to create. Powerpoints, worksheets, readings, etc. I don’t have a magic book or file cabinet with all this stuff. Which is ok, but I don’t only work 8 am-3pm like some people think. :)

4)       What’s the most challenging part of your life (could be a pet peeve, a work or family issue, whatever).

At work, it’s all the non-teaching stuff that takes up my day. This includes tons of paperwork, calls home, behavior issues, new standards I’m expected to learn and incorporate into a new style of unit plan that CPS is asking for. The amount of time spent on non-teaching related issues is huge. I often wonder how much better of a teacher I could be if I could just focus on teaching.

For my friends, it’s the understanding that if I don’t respond to a text or an e-mail during the day it’s not because I’m ignoring you! I’m teaching! I mean how bad would it look to have my phone out in front of the students who aren’t supposed to have their phones out? My friends who have desk jobs don’t always understand this and assume that I’m just not responding to them.

5)       What are you likely to be doing at 8pm on a Saturday night?
In the winter, enjoying a night of wine in with friends. In the summer, at a fest or at a beer garden outdoors.

6)       Paint me a picture of your life in five years.  
Hopefully I’ll be happier, healthier, and a bit smarter than I am now. I feel like those are the only things I can really control. Also, hopefully I have a better handle on not letting my laundry pile up.

7)       If you could be given any gift, what would it be?
I would pick to have my mortgage paid off, my condo redone to the way I want it, and a extra  500 sq feet magically added on so I would now have a whopping 1,200.

8)       What part of your morning routine do you consider essential?
Eye cream and black coffee.

9)       What one deceased person would you like an hour with?
Herbert Hoover. I’ve done a lot of research on him and even written a few papers on actions he attempted to do after the Depression began but was stopped by Cabinet members/Congress/FDR. I think he got a bum rap and I’d love to talk to him about some of the not so nice telegraphs that incoming president Roosevelt sent him.

10)   If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you guy and why? Have you been there before?
Anywhere that my family could all be. Preferably Hawaii, we’ve been before as a family and I love how relaxed we all are when we’re there, the beautiful scenery/weather, and the seafood.

11)   You have ten minutes to give a speech to college seniors.  What do you talk about?
That your major does not define you and the career you can have, the skills you possess do, learn to market yourself. Always be early, that’s the best time to talk to the boss. Put your cell phone away. Be present.  Pay your dues. Stop talking so much. Look and listen more. Don’t let anyone tell you what is or is not good to read, just read, even if it’s smut. If your heart isn’t in what you’re doing, it’s probably not worth it. There are such things as second chances, but they aren’t the same as first, and you usually have to work for them. Be kind.

I love this question. I honestly think I would probably say just the above too, so a two minute speech.

12)   What is your all-time favorite song?
In Front of the World, Gravity, and Fourth of July by Stephen Kellogg. Three songs, one band, all relevant to my life.

13)   If you weren’t in your current occupation, what would you like to do? 
This is tough, because I really love my current occupation. Can I pick to modify my current job? I would still be a teacher, however I would make it so my student’s outside problems that I don’t have control over were less of an issue in the classroom and the focus could be more on learning, unlimited resources for my classroom, and a pay raise. Nothing crazy, either my salary tax-free or twice as much as I get paid now.

Still the same job and I would still pick the same students.

14)   Tell me about your family.
They’re great. My parents are both retired and loving it. Growing up they could be hard on my siblings and I at times, and still can be if we deserve it. But, they were fair and I’m happy with the person they have helped me to become today. They let me do things like explore the world when I wanted to, regardless if that meant something like going to rock climbing camp or boarding a plane for Australia when I was 13. I love that I have memories of my mom taking me to Iowa basketball games and my dad taking me to Broadway shows and vice versa. They never made me feel like I was supposed to be or like anything than myself. They guided us without being overbearing. I can’t imagine how hard it was to let my siblings and I go off on our own at times, but they did.

They have always taken the stance that when they become parents it was be so for a lifetime, not until I was out of high school or 18 or something. My dad has told me that he worries about us every single day and that anytime he sees us calling he’s afraid something terrible has happened. I can’t imagine the selflessness that it takes to give of yourself for the rest of your life. They have truly established what it means to be a parent and how to love your children.

Working with students now, I have such respect for parents and the job that they have to do. I am forever grateful for the job that mine did with my siblings and myself.

My siblings, Erin and Michael, are twins. They are just two years younger than myself. I’m very close with the both of them and have been for a long time. I remember in high school someone commenting on how they were jealous of how close the three of us are.

I’m the older sister and I’m very protective of them. I can remember yelling at a parent during a Xavier baseball game because someone from Washington was heckling my brother and calling out some girl who was talking crap about my sister on her blog in high school. We now share a lot of friends, which I love too. I’m their biggest fans and I know they are mine None of us live in the same town, so it’s hard not seeing each other all the time, but we make the most of our time together when we do see each other.

15)   What do you “know now” that you wish you “knew then”?
You DID turn your straightener off, quit worrying! But really, just quit worrying, you’re going to be fine.

For more Melissa, check out her blog, Melissa Writes.

Thanks for reading!  If you'd like to be part of the Interesting Person Interview Series, please email your answers to theyearofthekate at   

1 comment:

  1. I would love to grow up to be more like Melissa! She rocks!


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