Westland HS teacher wins $500 for school
Westland High School teacher Melissa Kendralla does not stroll down a dirt road with a fishing pole over her shoulder, but she does reel them in. Students that is, not fish.
In April, Kendralla won an award through the “Panera Rising Above” contest, for her creativity in the classroom.
She was nominated by a short essay composed by junior Sinai Cruz-Santos and was one of three teachers chosen for the award of $500 towards their school.
Kendralla is a strong believer in the FISH! Philosophy and shares that with students, even if they are not in her marketing technology or street law classes.
The FISH! Philosophy centers on catch and release – Catch the Energy and Release the Potential. This philosophy is explained in an entertaining video from Pike’s Fish Market in Seattle, Wash., where employees interact with shoppers by offering them an opportunity to catch a fish being thrown around. It’s also prompted a few books.
That philosophy, she explained, is, choose the attitude, be there, make the day, play and have fun – and that is what Kendralla does with her students.
“We’ll read about it on Thursday and then I let the students put things together and have fun on Friday,” Kendralla said.
Besides teaching the two classes, she is the DECA advisor and Key Club advisor, and gets the students involved in numerous activities and fundraisers.
Kendralla tries to set an example for her students; she is a strong supporter of the local library and active in her community. Also, she is accessible to the students and there when they need her.
“They all have my cell phone number programmed into their phones,” Kendralla said.
Additionally, it is not unusual for students to join her for lunch.
“She’ll even give up her personal time to do things for us students,” Cruz-Santos said.
Cruz-Santos saw information about the contest when she visited Panera Bread one Saturday in March. The deadline for submitting a 100 to 200 word essay nominating a teacher was the following Thursday. She started texting her friends, “What can we say?”
Cruz-Santos finished the essay and submitted it the day before the deadline. She promptly forgot about it and did not even save a copy. Later, Cruz-Santos was surprised with a phone call to the school telling her that her nomination resulted in a winner, as was Kendralla.
“What did you get me into now?” was Kendralla’s first response.
On May 5, during a school award ceremony, the $500 award Cruz-Santos helped Kendralla catch for Westland High School was released – to the Key Club.