Name: Melissa Neill

What do you teach? I am a special education paraprofessional in the learning center at Platteview Central Junior High School.

Experience: I have taught first aid and CPR for the Red Cross, swimming lessons to kids, except my own (go figure) at the YMCA and water aerobics at a retirement community.

My first real classroom experience was at Sky’s The Limit Montessori in Auburn, Washington. I began as a parent volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten class and then was hired and taught first and second grade. When we moved to Gretna, I decided I wanted to be in the classroom again, so I volunteered at Westmont Elementary where both my daughters went to school.

When a position came open, I jumped at the chance and job-shared as a para in the kindergarten classroom. We then left for about six years, and I did some volunteering at Liberty Elementary while we lived in Canton, Georgia. Eventually, we made our way back to Omaha. Once here, I knew I wanted work in the district again and was fortunate enough to be hired as a special ed para, this time at the Junior High.

I love my job, the students and my coworkers, and am so thankful for the opportunity to work with some of the best teachers ever.

Hobbies: I enjoy reading, swimming, hiking, beachcombing, rock crawling in Moab, Utah, and cooking.

Who or what influenced you to become a teacher? I have always been someone who enjoys helping and nurturing others. I feel that those characteristics really fuel my love of teaching and allows me to connect and relate with the kids that I work with every day.

How do you spend you summer vacations? I love the ocean! The Oregon and California coasts are my favorite places to relax. There is something very therapeutic about listening to the waves and walking barefoot in the sand.

What is the most rewarding part of being an educator? The most rewarding part for me is when I have helped a student get to an “a-ha” moment in a class at school. Maybe they have really been struggling and working hard to understand something and all of a sudden it just clicks. It’s an awesome thing to be involved with.

If I weren’t a para, I’d . . . love to have a bed and breakfast on the Oregon coast, own and operate a food truck or have a Christmas tree farm.

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