Melissa Brings the World to 2nd Grade

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
― Augustine of Hippo

Give us Melissa Baral in a word. Goofy. When you really get to know me, you’ll understand that I can be a little weird. I break out into song randomly. I dance when there’s no music, but I think that helps make me a generally happy person. I think you should laugh every day. Try to smile every morning because smiling is contagious. I try to make my students laugh, too, but they don’t get all of my jokes yet.

How did you get started? All my work experience, even growing up, was with children, and I loved it. I knew that I wanted to do something with teaching even when I was still young, and it’s been a blast.

Can you tell us something we might not know about you? I love to travel.
For instance? Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos, Argentina, Costa Rica… I lived in Australia for 5 months… New Zealand, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Israel… I still haven’t gone to Europe, if you can believe that, so that’s the next destination. I’ve been to Canada and Mexico. I would go to New Zealand again, because I only visited the southern island. My husband wants to see where they made Lord of the Rings. Number one on my list is Italy — Rome, Venice, Florence…

That’s a pretty long list. What makes travel so alluring to you? I like meeting new people, seeing new places, learning new cultures, eating new foods. China — I went by myself. It was pretty scary. When I first got there, I said, “What am I doing here?” but my roommate showed up, and everything was ok. It’s very hot in the summer there, and smoggy. You have to be comfortable with chopsticks, because they won’t give you forks.

Sounds like there might be some serious training involved. There are a lot of things you need to be able to do if you want to travel… In Australia, it takes a love of koalas and kangaroos. You have to learn some of the lingo. It’s not aluminum; it’s aluminium. It’s not pepper; it’s capsicum. And you have to learn how to drive on the other side of the street…

Your students must love hearing about these kinds of lessons. Last year, when my husband and I were in Cambodia, we went to visit a school. There were volunteers, so I took pictures to show the children what school looks like there. There were a few things similar and a lot different. The children really enjoyed the opportunity to see how children learned so far away. Meanwhile, just as Mrs. Hechtman taught a class on elephant captivity using the book, The Magician’s Elephants, I went to a humane reservation [in Cambodia] and took photos to show the children.

Any likes or dislikes you care to share? Besides travel? Well, I like puppies and… Harry Potter.  I’m actually rereading them [the Potter Series]. I started in July. The fourth is not my favorite. The tri-wizard tournament is boring. I love the third book, though, because you learn about character and relationships. Dislikes? That’s easy. Coffee.  I won’t even eat mocha or coffee ice cream.