Ms. Malissa was born and raised about an hour south of Atlanta, Georgia. Her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Watts had such a positive impact on Malissa that she made it her life dream to become a second-grade teacher too. At the age of 16, Malissa’s first job was in a child development center where she cared for toddlers up to age four. This experience solidified her decision to become a teacher. In 2005, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Communications. Then, in 2008, she received her Masters in the Science of Education with a specialization in Brain Research and a Concentration in Learning and Teaching from NOVA Southeastern University. Her action research project was on the implementation of character education using direct and indirect instructional techniques in a low socioeconomic school district. Her passion for character education and social-emotional learning continues today.
For seven years, Malissa taught 3rd and 5th Grade English Language Arts and Mathematics at a Title 1 school in Georgia. She also taught art, technology, and testing strategies for a 21st Century and Migrant after-school program. During this time she mentored high school students who were interested in education. In 2012, she left teaching and had her first child, a beautiful daughter, and 18 months later, had a beautiful son. In 2016, she and her family decided to embark on an adventure and move to the island of Kaua’i. There she had her third child, another beautiful son. Shortly after, she returned to the education field as an assistant at Natural Bridges Montessori Preschool in Kilauea, Hawai’i. She worked at the preschool for two years, and during that time, she also taught Science and Math Standards through a Lego program called Bricks for Kids at the local Boys and Girls Clubs.
Thankfully, in 2018, Malissa discovered the brand new Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School and her oldest began kindergarten there. A year later she joined their team as a part-time Academic Coach and then as a Grade 3 Facilitator. During that time, she was able to engage her learners with a project-based learning activity of creating a podcast for the school. Two years later at Alaka’i, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a second-grade teacher. That year, she facilitated the Dream-Up to Space project and started a school garden with her learners. After the effects that the COVID pandemic had on students, Malissa was hired as an Assessment Coordinator to help with state testing and data analysis in the spring of 2021. Currently, she enjoys cheering on the learners to do their best on tests and lessening their test anxieties. She plays an active role in intervention strategies and supporting student’s academic success. In August 2023, Malissa was hired as the School Counselor and currently supports students’ social and emotional well-being.
All three of her children enjoy attending Alaka’i O Kaua’i. In her free time, Malissa loves writing, especially haikus, loves reading, especially books by Brene’ Brown, and taking hikes with family and friends.