‘It’s real life’

HARLINGEN — It began as a normal day.

It soon turned into something quite different.

Melissa Ferguson was in the middle of her second period physics class Monday morning when she received some surprise guests. Her students at Harlingen School of Health Professions were working steadily on their studies. She could tell by their smiles, however, that something was up.

And then …

“The Student Advisory Board came in with the administration and a representative from Valley Baptist,” she said, recalling the moment she learned she was the school’s Teacher of the Month.

“It was exciting,” said Ferguson, now in her fifth year of teaching.

“This was my first time getting Teacher of the Month,” she said. “When I saw the staff coming in I was confused. I was helping a group of students.”

That confusion quickly turned to joy as everyone spoke of her success as a teacher and took photos of her shining face.

Ferguson, a 2009 graduate of Harlingen High School, spent her first year teaching at Vernon Middle School. She’s enjoyed the past four years teaching pre-Advanced Placement physics to sophomores and juniors at HSHP.

“I really like the environment, the culture of the school,” she said. “The students are very motivated and self-driven. The administration is very supportive, and the departments are always collaborating, trying to get students where they need to be.”

So what factored into her being named Teacher of the Month?

“I think the students enjoy that they feel challenged in my class,” she said. “It’s not easy. I feel like they feel they are getting prepared for AP physics. Because that’s really my goal for my pre-AP physics.”

Perhaps her students can sense the passion she has for the subject matter.

“I like the content,” she said. “It’s real life. It’s very visual. You can explore the natural world, so the students can really make connections.”

Melissa Ferguson File

WHO: Teacher of the Month

WHERE: Harlingen School of Health Professions

SUBJECT: Pre-AP Physics

FAMILY: Married to Zachary Ferguson

They have one daughter, Ofelia