Good teachers impact their students’ lives in ways that go far beyond their time in the classroom together. For La Porte resident and former teacher Melissa Beck, this lasting impact extends not just outside the classroom, but across borders as well, as she has used her position as an English/Language Arts teacher to teach students locally and around the world.
“I have taught in Indiana, Texas, and Wisconsin as well as Japan and Germany,” Beck said. “My students have ranged from middle and high schoolers, to Japanese engineers, to military children, to children who speak almost no English. These experiences have given me the opportunity to teach children from all walks of life and make friends from many different places.”
Now a stay-at-home mom of three, being a guiding force in children’s lives remains a core part of Beck’s life.
“I like the term ‘domestic engineer,’” Beck said. “During the day, I have time to complete all the tasks that fall under that job description, then I have the rest of my time to enjoy family activities and volunteering.”
In addition to making sure her own family stays on track, Beck is an extremely active member of the community. She volunteers at several organizations, including serving as President for the La Porte Educational Development Foundation, Tri Kappa, Presbyterian Church of La Porte, La Porte Family YMCA, and the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte Tour de La Porte Cycling Committee.
“I am fortunate to have the time while my children are in school to donate to causes that interest me and places where I can share my talents and experiences,” Beck said. “I feel like I have a bit of responsibility to help because I want my children, and all children, to have opportunities to participate in various community events, and volunteers can help make that happen.”
Beck encourages anyone wanting to become active in the volunteer world but unsure of where to start to look into opportunities at local schools.
“As a teacher, I am interested in educational organizations and spending time in the schools,” Beck said. “Teachers always welcome volunteers, so schools are a great place to start.”
Beck also notes the importance of connecting with organizations that pique one’s individual interest.
“It’s also good to inquire about organizations that sound interesting to you or have a mission that you can really get behind,” Beck said. “Sports and athletics are an interest of mine as well, so I like to teach the fundamentals of sports and games to children.”
Between her volunteer work and keeping up with her responsibilities at home, Beck finds balance through time-management and the helping hand of her husband.
“I try to complete as much volunteer work as I can while my family is at work and school,” Beck said. “My husband and I tag team and try to sync our calendars so that one of us is usually available for the kids.”
When she’s not impacting the community with her unrelenting volunteer efforts or putting her top-notch domestic engineering skills to work, Beck enjoys an active and flavorful lifestyle.
“I love to snow and water ski, bike, golf, cook and travel,” Beck said. “I really enjoy skiing and hiking in the Alps: French, Italian, German, or Austrian. The beauty is incomparable, and the activities are abundant.”
Through every opportunity she has taken on in life, Beck has approached each new challenge with a strong “can-do” attitude.
“I always look at life’s challenges with the perspective that ‘I can,’” Beck said. “With a ‘can-do’ attitude I have had more opportunities than I ever imagined.”