Class of 2019: Melanie Falls

Originally from Lexington, VA, Melanie is graduating with an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.


How did your journey bring you to Curry? 

This is actually my second degree at Curry. I received a Master of Education in 2003 (Curriculum and Instruction) as well as my Endorsement for Administration and Supervision. I came back to Curry in 2014 as a doctoral student interested in studying teachers' data use practices. After being an elementary principal for a number of years, I made certain assumptions as a building-level leader that my teachers had the skills to collect, organize, analyze, and interpret data to make future instructional changes. When I realized they did not have those skills, I decided to come back to Curry and study the phenomenon in order to best help my teachers.  


What is the most significant thing that has shaped your time while you've been here? 

While I've been at Curry, I've been so amazed by the wonderful people I have met. The professors at Curry are so giving of themselves for their students' success. In addition, I was able to get to know fellow students in my cohort on both a personal and professional level. As a result, I have made many lifelong friends, both professional and personal, who I know I can call on if I ever need anything.   


If you can, name one person at Curry who has made a special impact during your studies and how? 

The person that has made a special impact on my studies is Dr. Tonya Moon. I have such admiration and appreciation for her as she is organized, efficient, and a great communicator. For me, Dr. Moon is an icon of guidance and leadership. Her powerful and inspiring enthusiasm for teaching made me a better student and a better educator. I have only known Dr. Moon since Fall 2014 when I entered her Stats I and Foundations of Educational Research courses as a new doctoral student. In this short amount of time, she has truly inspired me to never give up and believe that anything is possible. Dr. Moon's natural compassion is evident through her intense dedication to student learning and achievement. She assured me that I was capable of achieving all of my ambitions. Professor Moon is more than just a professor; she is a teacher, a mentor, an inspiration, and most of all, a friend. I hope to continue working with her on future projects.  


What is one thing you learned here that surprised you?   

It seemed as though graduate school was the longest stretch of my life, although I know that isn't true. It wasn't the time, the cost, commute, or the balancing act between school, my full-time job, and my family that made me feel this way - it was the fact that I had so much yet to learn, although I am a seasoned educator. I was surprised about what I didn't know and yearned to dive deeper in order to have more than a superficial understanding of what I was being taught. That has made me a much better practitioner and I am so thankful for this experience.


What will you be doing next? 

I will continue working in Rockbridge County Public Schools as a district administrator.