Melissa Campbell '05

Upon graduation from TPP in 2005, I began teaching in the Montgomery Township School District as a 7th grade science teacher.  Four years of study in Princeton’s neuroscience and psychology departments served me well, and I quickly earned a reputation as the “Brain Expert” among the students and faculty.  For two years I taught young scientists on topics ranging from neurons to biomes.  By 2007 I was ready for my next adventure.  The draw of graduate school competed with the allure of becoming a world traveler, so I decided to do both simultaneously.  I completed a master of science after one year of research at the University of Nottingham in the UK while enjoying trips across Britain and the continent. 

A small school in Arizona lured me back to the United States.  Rancho Solano Private Schools selected me to run its middle school science program in downtown Phoenix.  The intimate school setting and small student body creating a learning environment second-to-none.  My tenure at Rancho Solano was cut short by another overseas undertaking, this time to northern Japan.  Soon after the earthquake and tsunami devastated Fukushima my husband and I relocated to Aomori-prefecture.  I spent the last three years operating small education-related organizations in Japan.  My ventures varied in both subject and audience.  Some days I taught Japanese third-graders the difference between “there,” “they’re,” and “their,” while other days I helped an expat’s eighth-grader grasp tough concepts in geometry.  In 2014 I decided to put my Princeton education and teaching experience to the test as the founder and president of Ivy Leaf Tutoring.  Over the next few years I hope to build a business that puts students’ needs first and provides top-quality tutoring for both struggling students requiring extra instruction and advanced students looking for an extra challenge.

In the summer of 2005 I worked in Teacher Prep’s QUEST program as a teaching Fellow.  For six weeks I helped instruct fun and whimsical science lessons to experienced teachers from both public and private schools across New Jersey.  The QUEST program faculty’s advice and mentorship proved invaluable, drawing from years of diverse experience.  Bringing animals to science class is always a recipe for fun.  One of my favorite moments was during QUEST with fellow TPP graduate Virgina Pourakis.  We were learning to raise and sustain a monarch butterfly habitat, and feeding the butterflies is a demanding (but fascinating) task.  With a steady hand and a gentle giggle, we used a short probe to unroll the butterflies’ proboscis and serve sugar.  The opportunity to feed butterflies doesn’t happen often, so perhaps this skillset isn’t very useful, but I always enjoy telling the story of how we were Butterfly Butlers for month.  Not many people can say that!

I could not imagine anything more helpful to a young teacher.  I now try to incorporate collaboration across disciplines, grade levels, and experience as much as possible in my schools.  For example, I will invite foreign language instructors to sit-in on science class and teach “foreign jargon.”  The children always leave the class with a memorable experience, which helps the lesson stick in their minds!  Princeton’s TPP certainly inspired me to be creative in the classroom without diminishing the breadth or depth of the lesson.

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