Melissa Smith is a passionate educational leader. Her teaching, coaching, and activism meet at the intersection of equitable social and emotional instruction (SEL), visible and joyful learning, culturally responsive teaching, and anti-racist education. Melissa is currently the Lead Early Childhood Education Coach for the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia. As an ECE Lead Coach, she provides high-quality coaching and engaging professional learning for teachers, coaches, and leaders throughout Virginia focused on equitable SEL. Prior to her work at UVA, Melissa served as a teacher, literacy coach, mentor, curriculum developer, and professional learning facilitator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
Ms. Smith provides engaging learning experiences that foster personal and professional growth. She empowers participants to reach beyond their comfort zones to reimage and redesign their educational systems for equity. Melissa’s approach to coaching and leadership development helps educators notice, name, and disrupt systemic barriers to equity and enable inclusion within themselves and their organizations.
Melissa believes equity work is best done #OUTLOUD: learning in public, holding ourselves and each other accountable, trying new approaches, and working through complex challenges together.
Who are you?
I really enjoy facilitating TEAM BUILDING activities!!! I love to plan ways to create comradery amongst a group of strangers or deepen the level of trust with friends.
I am very expressive! Along with words, I talk with my hands, eyes, and movements. You never really have to guess how I am feeling.
Bible verses, positive affirmations, and motivational quotes are my most popular web searches. They give me joy, hope, guidance, reassurance, and so much more.
Foodie Here! If there is a new restaurant in town, I NEED to go. I like to check out the ambiance, décor, and of course the food.
Edjacent Why Statement
My purpose is to help teachers harness the capacity and wisdom necessary to become a threat to the existence of inequities in their circles of influence. I want to support educators in unveiling the invisible and making the silence audible. Often educators are prohibited from excavating the deep roots of systemic inequities. However, in order to have a liberated and thriving society for ALL, we need supportive, brave spaces to surface the discomfort. I am here in Edjacent to help curate those supportive brave spaces where everyone can fully feel and be in community; where educators are able to explore barriers to equity while holding on to wholeness and hope; where there is space for collective healing while navigating the possibilities of change.
Unique areas of focus in edjacent
I am an: Awareness Artist; Equity Freedom Fighter; Anti-Racist Educator; Thought Partner; Sense of Self Advocate; Brave Space Finder; Diversity and Inclusive Culture Curator
Who Focuses On: Equitable Social and Emotional Interactions; Coaching for Equity; Anti-Bias Education; Effective Facilitation Strategies; Team Development