November 10, 2023

In the public eye: Manchester School teacher strives to make impact in lives of students

Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Ed Pierce

Education is certainly the key to success in life and teacher Melissa Azzaratta continues to strive to make a lasting impact in the lives of her students.

Melissa Azzaratta has taught fourth grade at
Manchester School in Windham for the past
12 years and became interested in working
for RSU 14 after doing her student teaching
at Windham Primary School while attending
Azzaratta is a fourth-grade teacher at Manchester School in Windham and is actively involved in the instruction of writing, reading, math, science, and social studies curriculum as well as to help support and guide students through a variety of things.

“The absolute best thing about my job is getting to know students and forming relationships with them,” Azzaratta said. “Watching them grow and thrive brings me so much joy. We truly form a family, and it's so hard to say goodbye at the end of the year.”

She says that the most difficult part of what she does as a teacher is that the job is demanding and there’s not enough time in the day to spend with all her students.

“The most challenging aspect of my job is that there can't be 20 of me,” Azzaratta said. “If students have struggles at home and in their personal lives, I want to be there for all of them all the time and it's hard when I can't be everywhere at once.”

In fourth-grade math, children learn about place value up to the millions, prime and composite numbers, multiplying 2-digit and 3-digit numbers, long division, fractions, decimals, the metric system, and geometry, while in Social Studies, they learn geography skills such as map reading and longitude and latitude, state history, and early American history. 

Fourth grade is also when students learn about their own state's history, and in science they learn about rocks, fossils, erosion, electricity, forces and motion, light, and heat. During English, fourth graders learn how to find a story's theme, comparing and contrasting, citing textual evidence, main idea, writing objective summaries, writing narratives, writing research reports, writing explanatory essays, writing persuasive and argumentative pieces, figurative language, prefixes, suffixes, and context clues.

According to Azzaratta, the biggest misconception people may have about teaching is that the teachers leave after school and don't think about their job until the next day.

“Many teachers are always thinking about their students around the clock,” she said.

Azzaratta was born in Tampa, Florida and moved to Waterboro when she was 10-years-old.

“I went to the University of Southern Maine and have my master’s degree in teaching and learning and am currently working on my Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies with a focus in reading and curriculum,” she said. “I have a bachelor's degree in communication.”

Her student teaching was performed at Windham Primary School in second grade and Azzaratta said it was there that she came to absolutely love the Windham community and wanted to be a part of it, so she applied to any open position in the Windham School District.

“I was lucky enough to get an interview and get hired at Manchester School,” she said. “I've been here ever since.”

She’s now spent 12 years teaching fourth grade at Manchester School and said that she loves that age group and the curriculum that comes with it.

“My most memorable moment is when a student didn't like school, struggled in reading and math, and by the end of the year, they made so much progress and had a different outlook toward school,” Azzaratta said. “The public may not know that I put so much time into caring for each and every one of my students. I want each of them to be successful, not just in their academics, but in their social-emotional learning as well. I truly look at the whole child and want what's best for them in their personal and school lives.”

Azzaratta’s family appreciates her dedication to teaching and her willingness to work long hours while investing in the future success of her students through education.

“My family loves that I am a teacher and helping students to learn each and every day,” she said. “They like that I am helping our future leaders and giving them tools to be successful members of society.”

As a teacher, Azzaratta said she also learns valuable lessons from her students every day.

“I have learned that each and every student has their own needs, interests, learning styles, home lives and so much more,” she said. “It is my job to learn the ins and outs of their personalities so they are comfortable coming to school and getting the best possible education I can give them.” <

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