Ely Lions Club honors teachers of the month for February

Melany Johnson has been nominated as Teacher of the Month for David Norman Elementary.

Ms. Johnson came to us from White Pine High School at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school years and has been an exceptional addition to our staff. Her years of experience and understanding of students with disabilities is a great help to us as our percentage of students with disabilities is above the national average. She has taken over our Critical Life Skills (CLS) room and manages the cases of all our most severe student needs at D.E.N. She also oversees, along with administration, the diapersion and training of our para-professional staff who aide our Special Education Department. Additionally, she serves as a D.E.N. mentor and WPCSD mentor to a number of our teachers who are struggling.

Not only is she of great assistance to our Special Education Department but has proved beneficial in helping our school develop more well-rounded qualities due to her skills and willingness to use those skills for the betterment of WPCSD students. She is trained in Behavioral Assessment and has been used to determine and plan for student needs within both the SpEd population and the general student population. Her experiences in Early Childhood have been beneficial in assessing need within our kindergarten program. Finally, her leadership and innovative thinking have made her a part of our D.E.N. Academy. This newly formed leadership team was handpicked, will wok with NNRPDP, and become influential in progressive change at D.E.N. to achieve both cultural and academic success in the future.

Melany Johnson was born and raised in Ely by very hardworking parents who never had the opportunity to attend higher education. Very early in life, her family set goals for college attendance as a vehicle to provide herself with life choices. After graduating high school, she attended Southern Utah University and obtained a dual degree in Special Education and Elementary Education, becoming the first person in her family to obtain a bachelors degree. After obtaining her first teaching position, she realized that her bachelors was only the first step in becoming an effective teacher.

Ms. Johnson taught Special Education at McGill Elementary for five years, and then was given the opportunity to become the head teacher for Early Childhood Program. She earned her Early Childhood Education Certification essentially earning another Associates’ Degree. She attended training and became certified in understanding the effects of generational poverty, these two experiences combined led her to complete her thesis and conduct research regarding the effects of poverty, on language and early reading.

After working in the Early Childhood Program she returned to Special Education in McGill. While working there she had the opportunity to obtain her Masters’ Degree in Special Education with an emphasis on behavior disorders. While working on her Master’s, she participated in the state Assistive Technology project, as well as the state Positive Behavior Support Team, both of which have been a great benefit to her students. In order to better assist her students, she became a certified Irlen screener as well as learning the Barton system as an intervention for dyslexia.

Ms. Johnson took a year off from WPCSD to work in St. George, Utah working with UCLA in the Applied Behavior Analysis Program in Washington County School District.

After returning to WPCSD and to WPHS, she was able to participate in the state Transition Team for high school students with disabilities. Ms. Johnson and Mr. Hedges were able to implement student led IEP’s and presented their IEP process at the Mega-Conference in 2014. Ms. Johnson was given the great pleasure of being one of the first seven Jobs of Americas Graduates teachers in the state, giving her the opportunity to get training in resilience and mindset.

Ms. Johnson has one daughter who is a junior at UNR studying Health Sciences and Nursing.

Mark Bechtel has nominated Ms. Colleen Crossman as the Support sStaff of the Month. Ms. Crossman is a 1993 graduate of White Pine High School and began working for the school district in 2008 as a special education aide. In 2009 she accepted an aide position at Steptoe Valley High School where she remains today. One of Ms. Crossman’s strengths is her ability to establish a strong rapport with students while maintaining a strong presence in the classroom. She can be counted on by students and staff alike to go the extra mile. She brings a positive can do attitude into work each day. Working in an alternative high school environment requires staff members to be flexible in meeting the individual needs of students.

In addition to the normal academic assistance given to students she also serves as a confidant to students assisting them in addressing the challenges of everyday life. She works closely with the school’s only teacher to provide information to parents and other state agencies.

Ms. Crossman is a team player, when the school was finding it difficult to hire a substitute teacher she applied for a substitute teacher license. When the regular instructor is absent she is able to assume the instructional duties. While this does save the district some funds more importantly the students know who is in charge and the routine of the school is not interrupted.

Ms. Crossman is currently enrolled at Great Basin College pursuing a secondary teacher license with an emphasis in history. We welcome the day that Ms. Crossman will be able to join the ranks of the certified staff.

Colleen Crossman was born in Ely but grew up in Baker. Even thought it is a small town, it was the best place to be a kid. She attended schools in Baker, as well as Ely. She attended Mountain View Grade school (now D.E.N.) for kindergarten, which was a very long bus ride from Baker every day. She then attended first through eighth at Baker Grade School. She had some of the most amazing teachers in Baker, who taught her that you you can do anything you put your mind to. She then came to Ely for high school. After high school, she attended a year at Great Basin College before getting married.

Ms. Crossman is the mother of three children, Gunnar, her oldest, a freshman at UNR. Glenn, her middle child and only girl, is a sophomore at Gallatin High in Missouri. Cayden, her youngest, is in first grade at D.E.N.

Ms. Crossman worked for almost ten years for the state of Nevada at Ely State Prison as a correctional officer. After leaving ESP due to a medical condition, she began working for White Pine County School District as a teacher’s aide. I worked at White Pine High School for a year and a half before being transferred to Steptoe Valley High School, where she has been ever since. Steptoe Valley High School has a special place in her heart, the kids she teaches are like her own children.

Ms. Crossman decided to return to college to get her Bachelor[’s Degree in Secondary Education partly because of the kids at Steptoe Valley High School and partly because of her best friend. Her best friend Becky was a huge part of her life, but was lost in a car accident. Becky was hounding her to return to school and finish her education, the week after her lost. Colleen signed up for classes at Great Basin College.

Courtesy photo Melany Johnson and Colleen Crossman being honored by the Ely Lions Club and White Pine County School District.

Courtesy photo
Melany Johnson and Colleen Crossman being honored by the Ely Lions Club and White Pine County School District.

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