Faculty Spotlight: Nancy Melamed

Nancy Melamed is the Middle/Upper School Math Directress and just entered her 3rd year at MSR. We sat down with Nancy to find out how she spent her summer and a little bit more about her!

Tell us about your summer!
I had a wonderful summer! My husband, my two kids and I visited Iceland. What a beautiful and interesting country! I found the Icelandic language very challenging, and I would not recommend the fermented shark meat, but the geothermal swimming pools and the glacier hiking were great.

Tell us a bit more about yourself!
1. What three traits define you?
Three traits that define me include optimistic, open minded, appreciative.

2. What is your personal philosophy?
I would say that my personal philosophy could be summed up by saying, “life is a team sport”. The older I get, the more I see how much we still need each other for companionship, moral support, and help reaching our goals.

3. What are you listening to/reading these days?
I love to read novels during the summer and I just completed Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. It focuses on the lives of three women living different types of lives in the Appalachian Mountains. Kingsolver weaves in lots of natural science into her novels, so you get a great story and an education in mountain ecology.

4. Do you have any pets? What kind?
We currently have one pet, a very spoiled cockatiel named Stormy. I’ve been teaching him how to whistle the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show. He’s getting close!

5. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
My favorite thing to do on the weekend is to go up to Lake Gaston and go out on my paddle board or grill and watch the sunset over the lake.

6. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
The most memorable travel experience would have to be when I was in Elementary School. I lived in Rome for a year. My father went to art school there while my brothers and sisters and I went to the public school. I didn’t know a word of Italian, but managed to learn enough to get by. I think we often underestimate how strong, resourceful and resilient children can be!

7. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
If I could go back in time, I would tell my 13 year old self that it’s OK if you are not good at everything. Everyone has a different set of strengths and challenges and that’s a good thing.

8. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
People who don’t know me might be surprised that I worked as a costume designer for many years. I worked with kids as young as 5 and adults as old as 70 as part of a Community Theater group. I loved the drama and the high pressure when, no matter what happens (even when the director had a heart attack), the show must go on!

9. Who is/are your biggest inspiration/s?
My biggest inspiration are my parents. My Mom was the kindest person I’ve ever known. My Dad was a High School and Middle School teacher for 35 years. He introduced me to the joy of working with young people.

10. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I’m one of those “professional students” who always wants to learn more, so I’ve attended 3 colleges: Binghamton University, Duke, and UNC-Chapel Hill. I received a BS in Chemistry, and completed the coursework for a PhD in Chemistry and a PhD in Experimental Pathology.

11. Ten years ago, where did you think you would be now?
Ten years ago I knew this was what I wanted to do. I loved my experience as a teaching assistant at Duke and Carolina and I gladly subbed at MSR for 8 years before becoming a full time teacher. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing.

12. What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
I’m pleased to see that more of our educational institutions are realizing that learning comes in many styles. Learning differences are more recognized, supported and accommodated than when I was in school. Of course, Montessori educators have always recognized that.

13. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t a teacher?
If I were not teaching, I might be back in medical research. In my younger days, I worked as a research and development scientist for a biotechnology company.

14. What is your favorite thing about working at MSR?
One of my favorite things about working at MSR right now is being part of the exciting process of building a High School. I’m excited for us, the faculty, but especially for the pioneering students who will blaze this path with us.

15. What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?
My advice for students, especially for my 7th years, would be to ask questions any time you feel uncertain about something in class. We have so many different ways to present concepts to students. If one explanation doesn’t resonate with you, keep asking.