Melissa Ellis: A lifelong desire to teach is realized

By David Peck

From a very young age, Melissa Ellis knew she wanted to be a teacher. She admired her teachers growing up in Lovell, including her own mother, and thought teaching would be “a noble profession.”

“My mom (Annette) started going to school (for an education degree) when I was in the second grade,” Ellis said. “She would go to Northwest College every day for their distance learning program. My dad (Spencer) had to help out a lot.”

Ellis’ mother, Annette Ellis, is a well respected math teacher at Lovell Middle School, so she had a good example to follow.

“I became interested and took note of all of the hard work a teacher puts in,” she said.

Ellis has now joined her mother as a teacher in School District No. 2, teaching first grade at Lovell Elementary School.

While she said she couldn’t point to a particular teacher who inspired her, other than her mother, she said she held many of her teachers in high regard.

“I wanted the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children, like teachers I had (in school) and had observed did,” she said. “I was very fortunate to have good teachers throughout my (educational) career.”

Ellis graduated from Lovell High School in 2012 with a year of college already under her belt, thanks to the ability to take college courses through NWC while in high school. She wrapped up her associate’s degree a year later and moved on to the University of Wyoming.

She said she got her first taste of teaching during her year at NWC working a practicum with Pat Winland in his fifth-grade classroom at Rocky Mountain Elementary School. And during her final year at UW, she did her student teaching in a first grade classroom at Northpark Elementary School in Rock Springs prior to her graduation in 2015, “which solidified my love of teaching, especially in the younger grades.”

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Ellis spent one more year in Laramie working toward a master’s degree in speech pathology, but she realized she really wanted to be in the classroom, so in 2017 she took a job teaching kindergarten at the Aspen Early Learning Center in Riverton, which works with children from birth through kindergarten.

During her three years in Riverton, she started dating her former classmate and fellow 2012 LHS graduate Cody King, and with Cody living in Lovell, she looked for an opportunity to return home. When an extra first grade teacher was needed at Lovell Elementary due to a large class moving up from kindergarten, she applied and was hired in 2020, starting her Lovell career.

“I am thrilled for this opportunity to be back in the Big Horn Basin teaching first grade in my hometown,” Ellis said. “I love the excitement elementary kids have for school and learning. I’ve always been drawn to the younger grades. They’re excited and want to be at school.”

Asked about her teaching philosophy, she replied simply, “Every child wants to be loved and valued.”

For now, Melissa Ellis is “Miss Ellis,” but not for long. She and King, a superintendent at Bairco Construction, will be married April 2 in Billings.

She is working on a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction through Western Governors University.