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Learning Center Experience
Melissa Clairday is an adjunct professor in Kaplan
education progam. She
teaches the course Child and Adolescent Development (ED 513).
Professor Clairday always knew she would go to college.
Growing up in Alabama, she watched as her parents worked tirelessly at
blue-collar jobs. Though both of her parents did not graduate high school
initially, she is proud to say that eventually her mother earned her GED and
father earned his high school diploma years later. She admired their work
ethics but knew she wanted more out of her career.
Professor Clairday remembers the moment she first thought
a teacher. Melissa
was an outgoing 18 year old in junior college. She felt lost and uninspired by
her major, which was computer information systems. One day in class, an
instructor asked her if she had ever considered elementary education.
“I loved working with and helping others. And, my teacher
pointed out to me that the choice I had made in careers was probably not very
complementary to my interests and personality. Because of what she said, I switched
majors,” said Professor Clairday. “As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized teaching
was my true calling. I just had to hear it from someone else who saw that
potential in me.”
Over a 19-year career, Professor Clairday has found the
connections she makes with her students to be some of the most gratifying parts
of her work. She truly cares about her students and wants to see them succeed.
That’s why she spent 10 years teaching elementary school in a
high-poverty community, which she admits was challenging but rewarding on many
“Sometimes the classroom teacher is the only true advocate
for a child due to the challenging situations that parents find themselves in
while trying to provide a home for their children,” said Professor Clairday. “I
always felt a strong connection with those types of students, because I knew if
I didn’t step up and make a difference, then I was short-changing them. I
wanted to show them that the learning experience could be positive.”
This passion for helping others learn drove Professor
Clairday to Kaplan University in 2010, where she currently teaches Child and
Adolescent Development. She enjoys showing graduate students strategies for
applying development theory to their classroom management and educational
practices. Her class focuses on how to identify various student behaviors and
then develop effective approaches to addressing those behaviors in the
Today, Professor Clairday recalls the importance of what her
junior college professor said so many years ago. It’s because of her experience
that she never shies away from encouraging her students and other young adults
to pursue professions that align with their personalities and interests.
“As teachers, it’s our responsibility to point out the
potential in our students. Sometimes it takes someone else to help us see
strengths that are already within us,” said Professor Clairday.
In recent years, Professor Clairday earned her Doctorate of
Educational Leadership and Masters in Instructional Leadership. Now she has her
eyes set on working in an administrative role, ideally in middle school, where
she feels she can help create a strong support system for students.
When asked what advice she has for teachers striving to further
their own education
Clairday emphasizes the importance of building relationships.
“Don’t make any assumptions about your students. Instead, get
to know them and figure out what motivates them,” she said. “Whether you’re in
an elementary school or higher education, it’s up to us teachers to bring out
the best in our students.”
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