Lisa Melendez, a Business teacher at Portage High School, always knew she wanted to be a teacher. And for almost 10 years, Melendez has been doing her part to teach the students of Portage High School valuable lessons for their future.
Born and raised in Glenwood, Illinois, Melendez was a cheerleader in high school. The Illinois native moved to Georgia, where she lived for 15 years and went on to study at University of Georgia. While she studied, Melendez worked in the career office helping students find on-campus employment. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Education in 2008, before moving to Northwest Indiana.
“I moved to Hammond and started teaching at Clarks High School,” she explained. “I taught there for three years and then went to La Porte High School for a year, before coming to Portage High School where I have been ever since.”
While she was working, Melendez attended Purdue University Northwest and received her Masters in School Administration in 2013. Despite her expertise and experience in secondary education and her passion for education, Melendez didn’t start her career as a teacher right away.
“It was one of those things that when a little kid was asked what they wanted to be when they grow up, I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Melendez explained. “But I kind of let life get in the way for a while, so before going to school, I was a Human Resources Manager.”
But the desire to be a teacher and help students continued to grow, so Melendez took the plunge and went back to school. Now, she teaches business to the students of Portage High School and is loving every minute of it.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I can see a change in the time that I meet these kids when they’re freshman to when they’re seniors. I love seeing them change.”
Melendez has been with Portage High School for the past five years. Before coming to Portage, however, she was teaching at La Porte High School and lived in Whiting, which meant that her daily commute was an hour there, and an hour back.
“The commute was killing me,” Melendez said. “So I started searching for a new job, and on-line there’s this little website for teachers called Learning Connections and someone from Portage High School posted on there that she needed two new, good teachers.”
So Melendez sent an email explaining that she was interested in the job. She interviewed for the position and, of course, got the job. Now Melendez teaches six classes, including college and career classes and personal finance, which will be required for graduation starting next year.
“I love teaching this subject,” Melendez said. “Teaching a subject that is required for graduation is great because the kids I teach know that it’s important and know that they have to be involved in the class.”
Along with teaching six classes, Melendez is also the Business Professionals of America sponsor. The BPA is an organization that sponsors students who take what they have learned in class and then apply it to state and national competitions. Melendez has been doing this for almost nine years and this year, she and two seniors from Portage High School will be traveling to Orlando, Florida for Nationals.
“I’m very excited that we’re going this year,” Melendez said. “The two students coming with me are seniors so this is a great way for them to end their senior year.”
When Melendez isn’t teaching students the ins and outs of business and finance, she is watching college or professional football, or waiting for the season to start.
“There’s no way you can graduate from University of Georgia and not be a football fan,” Melendez said. “I also love professional football and come Saturdays and Sundays in the fall, it’s awesome watching games.”
Her career as a teacher may have started a little late, but Lisa Melendez’s passion for education has proved that the girl who knew she wanted to be a teacher years ago was right. Education is incredibly important in everyone’s life and the Illinois native is working hard to make sure every one of her students see that.
“Education will help you go further in your life and career,” Melendez said. “Anything you do will require some form of diploma, whether it’s a high school or college diploma, so education is very important for everyone.”
For more information about the Business Professionals of America and the upcoming Nationals competition, go to www.bpa.org.