Melanie (Drotleff ’06) Hughes

Major: Middle Childhood Education
Job Title: Supervisor, Clinical Practice

I am currently a stay-at-home mom and for the last two semesters (Fall 2014, Spring 2015) I worked as University Supervisor of Clinical Practice for Mount Union seniors completing their Student Teaching experience. In this position, I had the opportunity to work for Mount Union as a University supervisor for three seniors who were completing their Student Teaching Clinical Practice in Gaston County, North Carolina. I reviewed their weekly lesson plans, observed them in the classroom, completed their evaluations and had weekly conferences with them to act as a mentor.

MY EXCEPTIONAL STORY

Why Mount Union
Growing up in Salem, Ohio, my family made frequent visits to Alliance for dining and shopping purposes. Each time we drove past Mount Union, I would always stare out my window and imagine attending that college one day. Once I was a senior in high school, I would always compare all other schools to Mount Union. It was far enough from home that I felt like I would be “on my own,” but close enough for frequent visits when I felt homesick. The deciding factor to choose Mount Union came when the volleyball and track coaches both showed an interest in me attending Mount Union to join those teams.

Unique Faculty and Staff
Mount Union is unique because of the faculty and staff. I felt that each professor I had was truly interested in helping me become a successful student and person. I always felt like I had a strong enough connection to go to them with my questions and concerns. At a larger university, I think I would have been lost in the crowd, but at Mount Union, I felt like an important member of each class and the campus overall.

Favorite Professor
My favorite professor was also one of my track coaches, Coach John Homon. I first met Coach Homon at one of my high school track meets. He spoke with me then about attending Mount Union and said that he hoped I would consider being a part of Mount’s track team. During my freshman year at Mount, I decided to sign up for the track team. When Coach Homon saw me, he remembered my name, where he saw me throw shot put in competition, and even what my farthest throw was that day. I was shocked. He seemed genuinely thrilled that I was joining the team. Throughout my four years on the indoor and outdoor track teams, and my entire college career, Coach Homon was my coach, professor, mentor and a constant support system. He believed in me long before I believed in myself. I am forever grateful for all of his guidance and support.

First Professional Job
For my first professional job, I was hired over the phone (in Tracy McGary Finnegan’s office) as a sixth grade teacher for Southwest Middle School in Gastonia, North Carolina. I had never visited the school and the principal there had never met me. He interviewed me over the phone and offered me a position on the spot. I took a huge leap of faith, since I would be about eight hours from home. I had an incredible first year with my students. I feel strongly that Mount Union helped prepare me for the type of teacher I wanted to be. I earned the honor of Gaston County’s New Teacher of the Year in May 2007 out of 488 eligible new teachers. I continued teaching middle school students in North Carolina for the next seven years.

Campus Involvement
I was a member of Mount Union’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams for four years.

Department of Education
Mount Union’s Department of Education does an incredible job preparing tomorrow’s teachers for their future classrooms. I gained field experience in the classroom during my freshman year. Many other colleges and universities do not send their students for field experience that early. Gaining that experience so early helped me feel confident that teaching was the correct profession for me. The department also gave me a variety of placements, from elementary to middle to high school, throughout my years at Mount Union. I felt confident making the commitment to middle childhood education because I had experience with all three levels. Middle school was the perfect fit for me. I appreciate the fact that I didn’t have to blindly make a decision and just guess which level would suit me the best. My professors and my advisor, Dr. James Infante, talked with me at length, on numerous occasions, to guide decisions about my major, minor and future.

Making Connections
I am very close with several of the friends I made at Mount Union. Three of my closest friends from Mount Union, Kristen Kuntzman, Ashley Kohler and Ashley (Bourdeau) Durham, stood up with me on my wedding day. I also stay in touch with many other teacher-friends who were in my education classes.

Staying in Touch
I stay connected to Mount Union, my professors and my friends mostly through Facebook. I am able to keep an eye on events and stay in touch with those who have become so important to me.

Lifetime Goal
One goal I would like to accomplish is to one day be a professor of education for Mount Union. I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity to work with graduating teacher candidates from Mount, who are ready to step into their own classrooms. It would be very fulfilling to give back to the students at Mount Union in that way.

Valuable Investment
My education from Mount Union has proven to be an excellent investment. I have had a great deal of success inside and outside of the classroom because of the person all of those at Mount Union helped me to become.

Rewarding Experience
When RuthAnn Rinto first asked me about being a university supervisor for seniors who were completing their student teaching in North Carolina, I felt honored and thrilled for the opportunity to give back to other Mount Union students. I worked with seniors who were completing their Clinical Practice at W.A. Bess Elementary, Southwest Middle School (where I had taught for four years) and Forestview High School in Gaston County. The Clinical Practice of Student Teaching is such an exciting, stressful, overwhelming and rewarding time for seniors. I sincerely enjoyed my role of mentor and supervisor for students who were so close to stepping into their first roles as professional educators. I was able to share my passion for teaching, experiences and lessons I have learned along the way. One of the most important things I tried to do was encourage, inspire and help build confidence for my mentees. The professors and supervisors I had at Mount Union did such an incredible job of supporting me during my college experience and I knew these seniors needed and deserved the same support and attention. Being a university supervisor for Mount Union has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career so far.

Mount Union is unique because of the faculty and staff. I felt that each professor I had was truly interested in helping me become a successful student and person. I always felt like I had a strong enough connection to go to them with my questions and concerns. At a larger university, I think I would have been lost in the crowd, but at Mount Union, I felt like an important member of each class and the campus overall.

Fun Facts

Where is your favorite travel destination?
Niagara Falls, Canada
What is your favorite quote or motto?
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” –William Arthur Ward
If you could try out any job for a day, what would it be and why?
? I’d be on Broadway as Elphaba from Wicked, because it is one of my favorite musicals and I love performing on stage!
What’s the #1 most played song on your iTunes?
“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
What’s your all-time favorite movie or TV show?
My all-time favorite movie is the Broadway musical “RENT.” Although I love and prefer seeing it live, the movie version is pretty amazing as well!
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