Shining a light on teachers: Melody Arabo excels

Posted by Joan Hanna on May 06, 2016 in Blog

Melody_tesach.jpgArab Americans can be found in all professions and industries, so it should come as no surprise that many of them shine in the field of education. For the past three years, Michigan’s Department of Education has selected teachers, who happen to be Arab American, as Teacher of the Year. Melody Arabo is one of these, honored with the title in 2015 and for good reason.

Arabo has been a third grade teacher at Keith Elementary in Walled Lake, Michigan for the last 14 years. Recognized for her numerous contributions to her students and community, Arabo’s been named a National Education Association Master Teacher, a Michigan Educator Voice Lead Fellow, Oakland County’s Elite 40 under 40 winner, a 2008 Keith Elementary Teacher of the Year and first runner-up for Walled Lake’s District Teacher of the Year in 2009. Continuing her momentum, Arabo is also a finalist for the U.S. Department of Education’s Teaching Ambassador Fellowship.

Although she’s at the top of her field, Arabo wasn’t always interested in becoming a teacher. In college she studied marketing at Michigan State University, but changed career paths after she was asked to become a Chaldean ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. After one week of teaching ESL, she fell in love with the occupation. The school principle soon became a mentor and helped shape her love for teaching.

Today Arabo’s teaching style revolves around active communication and an investment in meaningful connections with her students. She uses those tactics to identify and engage children who employ bullying practices. “It’s about shifting the conversation with these students and emphasizing that bullying doesn’t fit a specific stereotype. It’s our actions that can contribute to bullying and identifying when bullying happens and dealing with the situation then and there is what helps stop this cycle.”

From her own teaching experience, Melody wrote a children’s book, Diary of a Real Bully, as another way to engage children and administration officials. It has become Arabo’s  mission to leave a lasting mark on her students, and she’s been successful in her goal. She still keeps in touch with students from her first third grade class. “They’ll be graduating college this year. I’ve gone to their high school graduations, been in their prom pictures. I’m excited to see where they’re going next. The connection that we’ve developed lasts way beyond the year that I had them in class. That’s what I’ve most enjoyed about being a teacher.”

Outside the classroom, Arabo is a wife and mother of three, author and speaker, and still finds time to pursue her passions of advocating for special education reform and bully prevention.

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