Brooke Mele ’19, a student in the M.A.T. graduate program at Elms, is pursuing licensure as a reading specialist so she can help her students become lifelong learners.

A Limitless Love of Learning

When Brooke Mele ’19 first started her career as an elementary school teacher, she didn’t plan on becoming an expert in reading instruction. Everything changed, though, when she saw her first graders’ limitless love of learning.

Photo of Brooke Mele, a student in the master of arts in teaching program“The most rewarding part of teaching reading is when your students realize that there is information in their books, and that they aren’t just something your teacher assigns to you,” the Wilbraham, MA, native said. “It’s so cool when you can’t get them to stop reading and transition to the next part of class. You want them to get that excited.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education from Boston University in 2015, Brooke moved back to western Massachusetts, where she has worked for the past three years as a first grade teacher at Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School in Springfield, MA.

'No matter what a student’s passion is — whether it is reading, writing, math, history, science, or other subjects — literacy is intertwined in all of it.'

As a graduate student in the master of arts in teaching (M.A.T.) program, Brooke is pursuing the reading specialist track. To complete her teaching practicum requirements, she spends her summers working at the Elms summer reading program, which gives M.A.T. students the chance to assess students’ reading skills while also earning licensure hours.

“This program is only five weeks, but the amount of specialized instruction that students get helps them grow so quickly,” she said.

A Marketplace of Ideas

Between lesson planning, teaching classes, speaking with parents, and faculty meetings, elementary school teachers face fully booked schedules every day. When do they find the time to innovate new lessons and activities? One strength of the M.A.T. program is the real-world applicability of the curriculum, Brooke said.

“I love that the work we do in our classes provides me with materials, strategies, and lesson plans that I can use in my own classroom,” she said. “Thinking back to how I taught reading my first year as a teacher, and how I teach it now, I know this program influenced many of things I have changed and improved upon.”

Group photo of Master of Arts in Teaching students at the Elms Summer Reading Program“I think as educators we should always be learning and bettering our craft. The M.A.T. program has allowed me to do just that,” she added.

Of course, pedagogy development doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The lively discussions that unfold during class sessions also play a key part in helping teachers hone their craft.

“Everyone wants everyone else to do well,” Brooke said. “We always bounce ideas off of each other. It’s just a great community of people striving to continue their education.”

'I think as educators we should always be learning and bettering our craft. The M.A.T. program has allowed me to do just that.'

Equipped with new lesson plans and teaching strategies, Brooke is entering her fourth year at Balliet prepared to give her students a foundation on which they will rely for the rest of their lives.

“Literacy today is the key to being successful in so many ways. No matter what a student’s passion is — whether it is reading, writing, math, history, science, or other subjects — literacy is intertwined in all of it,” she said.

“My overall goal each year is to lead by example and create a supportive classroom community so that my students will become passionate, lifelong learners,” she added.

Whether you teach first graders or high school seniors, the reading specialist track of the Elms M.A.T. program trains you to help students achieve literacy. Contact us to learn more.