Teacher of the Month: Melanie Brindley
Teachers implementing the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum are featured in this column. This month’s Featured Teacher, Melanie Brindley, was nominated by Judy Clay, Director, Early Childhood Education.
Melanie, a former elementary education teacher, has been working for Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative Early Childhood Program teaching the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum in several Arkansas school systems. Melanie uses weekly Mutt-i-grees® lessons to spotlight the importance of social and emotional learning. Melanie also works to train other teachers on how to implement the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum in their classrooms.
With the teachers’ cooperation, Melanie has incorporated a fun, take-home activity. Each class is given a plush dog to be “adopted”. The class takes part in naming their Mutt-i-gree® and they are given a special take-home bag and a journal. The teacher sends the dog, journal, and bag home on a rotational schedule with the students. Parents and students are encouraged to write about how their Mutt-i-gree® spent its time with their family. Upon bringing the journals back, the students help the teacher “share” their portion of the journal with the class. Families have sent back photos of their class Mutt-i-gree® with the students’ pets, while other students have drawn illustrations of the visit. Once, a student left the dog in another state while on a weekend visit to their grandparents’ house and it had to be shipped back to Arkansas. The class called him a very brave “world traveler!” The students love to have their Mutt-i-gree® come visit their home and they take so much pride in their responsibility.
Melanie has seen firsthand how the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum has supported the development of confident and caring children. She says, “I love teaching this curriculum and believe these lessons can make a difference in cultivating caring and compassionate students. I truly like the idea of starting this social emotional learning in the early years. The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is perfect for school-wide adoption since empathy is something that benefits all school-age children.”