Melissa Lowe: Dedicated Her Career to Non-English Speakers
Apr 30, 2014 07:17AM
● By Steven Jack
Melissa Lowe: English Language (EL) Language Arts Teacher, Oswego East High School
Years with district: 25
Awards / Recognition: 1997 Kendall County Youth Service Award
“Melissa Lowe has exhibited a passion for teaching and an exceptional work ethic that is rare. She instills a sense of self-worth and confidence in every student she meets, consistently helping them to set goals and encouraging them to achieve above and beyond their aspirations.”
— Principal Dr. Louis Lee, Oswego East High School
Since 1989, Melissa Lowe has been a bridge for non-English speaking students. As an English Language (EL) teacher, Lowe has worked with students and families from more than 30 countries. Many of these students began school speaking no or limited English. “Everything in their lives was new and different—customs, culture, and food,” said Lowe. “They had much to learn, and learn they did.”
Lowe, her EL colleagues, and other students embraced the newcomers offering them rich language experiences, and soon these students were on their way to becoming fluent English speakers and successful students.
In her 25-year career with the district, Lowe worked as an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor, ESL coordinator, and EL teacher. She also helped organize and implement the Together We Grow organization and Club Friday, a recreational program for junior high students.
“It has been amazing to see the phenomenal growth in the EL program over the past 25 years,” said Lowe, who was an itinerant teacher for 15 years, traveling from school to school within the district. “There was only one day, when I was driving on Boulder Hill Pass, that I forgot which school I was going to,” Lowe quipped.
While Lowe’s students learned a tremendous amount from her, she contends she learned just as much from them and their families. “Time and time again their human spirit shone through in their motivation to learn, persistence to succeed, and desire to move forward despite struggles and obstacles,” said Lowe. Some of her fondest memories include being part of her students’ welcoming committee on their first day of school and cheering them on along their path. “When there were no words available for communication, a smile always worked, because a smile is a smile in every language,” she noted.
Prior to joining the district, Lowe worked as a special education teacher at Lincoln Developmental Center, in Lincoln, Ill., and in School District 61, in Decatur, Ill.
Lowe plans to continue her love of teaching in retirement through tutoring. She also plans to volunteer, travel, and spend time with her grandchildren.