HHS’s Melissa Copeland given Teacher of the Year Award

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, December 21, 2021

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By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

HELENA – The Shelby County Board of Education and Shelby County Schools Education Foundation honored the district’s 2021 Teacher of the Year award recipients at a celebration on Thursday, Dec. 2.

Included in the list of honorees was Helena High School’s Melissa Copeland. Copeland is a science teacher who has been at the high school since its beginning, and has built a strong rapport with her students. While some saw Copeland’s receiving the award as an obvious fit, Copeland said she was shocked.

“I was speechless,” she said. “Which doesn’t happen very often. I was really more shocked than anything because I don’t think of myself that way. It was very humbling to think that my coworkers would think of me in that way.”

She said receiving the award was “very humbling. Like I said previously, I just don’t think of myself that way. I am who I am as a teacher because of the people I work with and have worked with in the past. So, if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am.”

Copeland teaches science at the high school, and despite having a large number of students throughout the day, she makes an effort to get to know each of them.

“I love the relationships that I get to build with my students,” she said.  “I love celebrating their successes, seeing them grow and keeping up with them after they leave high school.”

She said there are some students who jokingly call her “Mom” due to her caring and nurturing personality.

“I think kids, and everybody for that matter, just wants to be heard and feel recognized and know that they are loved and somebody cares about them,” Copeland said. “I think if you can show kids that you care about them as more than just a student in your classroom, then what they will do for you increases by leaps and bounds. You can build trust and respect, and with that kids can flourish.”

Copeland said she loves teaching in Helena because she feels the same qualities she tries to instill in her students, like trust and respect, are also things that are poured back into the school’s staff.

“I love the kids and my coworkers,” she said. “I enjoy living in a town and being invested in the kids that are a part of it.”