Many have been in the profession much longer, but her peers say that Vilonia Primary School’s first grade teacher Melissa Gasaway has a heart for teaching as well as she is a “powerhouse of energy.”
Perhaps, that is one reason she has the title of 2015-16 Teacher of the Year for the Vilonia School District. Another energetic first grade teacher Jeanne Harvey works just down the hall from Gasaway. Harvey is many years Gasaway’s senior in the profession, however, she said she has learned some new lessons from the fairly new educator.
“She is such a powerhouse of energy. Super talented and driven. Greatness should be her middle name but humble beat it out,” Harvey describes Gasaway.
Gasaway, who is beginning her third year as a teacher, said she student taught, also at the primary, alongside another inspirational teacher Kayla Roberts. Yet, it wasn't Gasaway's first time in the classroom. She worked as a paraprofessional in El Dorado.
She said she loves her job, her fellow teachers and her students. She moved to the area with her husband, Warren, and their three children Tyler, Ethan and Elise from El Dorado. A minister, Warren works in Little Rock at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Tyler is a sophomore at UCA, Ethan is a junior at VHS and Elise attends VMS.
A Texas drawl, Gasaway said, that is where she's from. However, she has lived in Arkansas for several years as a pastor's wife.
“I was really older coming in as a teacher. That is just what was best for me. But, now, I have been bitten by the education bug and I just can’t get enough it seems.”
She plans to finish her Master’s Degree in curriculum instruction this year. She loves her role as an educator and realizes the importance of being a teacher. Her motivation, she said, is being able to help shape the lives of the little ones.
“You see so much growth,” she said, stressing that it is both physically and mentally. “They may come to you not believing in themselves. You pour into them—both love and learning. Before long, they begin to believe in themselves and it is really just wonderful to watch how they grow.”
As far as the title, Gasaway didn’t seem as excited about talking about it as she did about her students and her plans for the upcoming school year.