Celebration Series – Melissa Boddie

Melissa Boddie is woven into YES Prep North Central culture just as much as it is woven into her.  She is a fixture of patience, positivity, and dedication.  Even years after leaving her classroom, students radiate joy at the mention of her name.  Boddie is a champion of her students, their families, and, most of all, the idea that teaching is more than just delivering a lesson – it’s about caring for kids.

“You know, [the kids] are kind of – for nine hours a day – our children, so you want to do your best,” Boddie said.  “They’re little and they need our help – sometimes a bunch.”

Boddie, now in her thirteenth year of teaching, began at Garcia Elementary in Houston ISD in 2001.  After much persuasion, including an ambush at dinner one evening by Mark DiBella, a former Garcia teacher as well and now YES Prep's COO, Boddie decided to come to YES Prep in 2007.

Now in her seventh year at YES Prep North Central, Boddie has taught all levels of middle school math, including enrichment courses and she currently teaches 6th grade math.

For Boddie, staying in the classroom remains a priority.  “I like being in the classroom,” she said.  “I have no desire to get out of the classroom.  I don’t want to be in administration.  I just want to be really good at teaching sixth grade math.”

As the recipient of a Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award this past August, Boddie proves she is fulfilling her personal mission.  Kinder awards, along with a $20,000 check, are given to individuals in the Houston area who have demonstrated excellence as educators.

Though Boddie enjoys her current position in 6th grade math, she reflects on the two years she spent teaching 8th grade math with deep gratitude and pride. 

“I’d never taught 8th grade math before and I can remember spending hours planning lessons and realizing the gaps and what [the students] didn’t know,” she said.  “I remember walking into DiBella’s office (then school director) and saying, ‘This is a lot harder than I thought.’”

Boddie recalls that half the challenge that first year was rebuilding confidence in students as many felt that they hadn’t been good at math and some had never passed a math test.

Not only did Boddie build students’ confidence, she led them to new levels of success.

“Thirty percent were commended when the TAKS scores came in,” she said. “They were the 31 lowest math students academically, and they just needed an environment where they felt comfortable.”

To ensure students not only felt comfortable but also invested, Boddie enlisted the support of their parents, hosting a dinner at school that drew 100 percent attendance.

“We talked about our goals for the year and what we wanted to do to be successful,” she said.  “[The parents] were really supportive of their kids, which was really helpful.”

Her determination, coupled with her patience and approachability, is exactly why students adore Ms. Boddie.  She isn’t afraid to admit her own mistakes, teaching students valuable lessons beyond fractions and decimals. 

 “You want to not make mistakes in front of them,” she said.  “But it helps them kind of learn how to behave when you help them realize it is okay to make mistakes.”

This year, Boddie will watch her first class of YES Prep 6th graders graduate from high school.

“It’s exciting just to be able to see that you’ve had a tiny part in where the kids are today and where they’re going – the successes they’re going to have,” she said.  “It’s comforting to know that all the challenges that you were working on when they were in sixth grade – that they got it figured out and they learned.”

Though each school year brings its own unique set of challenges, Boddie is motivated by her colleagues and, most of all, her students.

“Even the hard days – when you’re exhausted and you want to go home when that bell rings,” she said. “You still want to do your best because you care about the people you work with and you know that the kids are counting on you.”

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