Return to Headlines

Northeast teacher named A. Craig Phillips Scholar

An LCPS art teacher with an affinity for reading instruction will explore ways to combine her two passions in education as one of three teachers in the state selected as an A. Craig Phillips Honored Educator Scholar.

Melissa Capel The recognition for Melissa Capel of Northeast Elementary School comes with a scholarship to attend professional development training sponsored by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) and a cash award of $250. Capel, who is entering her fourth year as an art teacher at Northeast, plans to use the scholarship opportunity to investigate ways to integrate reading instruction and art.

“I’ve always integrated reading into my lessons even if it’s just a read aloud,” Capel said. “This past year we implemented Leveled Literacy Intervention (at Northeast) and I started working with small groups in the morning and taught art in the afternoon. I was thrilled to see the growth in my small groups. Since then, I’ve thought about what more I could do to integrate literacy in art.”

Leveled Literacy Intervention, or LLI, is daily supplemental small-group instruction designed to gradually build reading proficiency through the use of books and assessments geared to an individual student’s reading ability.

“I really love doing the small groups,” Capel said, “and I hope next school year we continue the LLI. It’s beneficial. The kids do need more reading time.”

Even in art class, she thinks. Capel wants to go beyond what she’s usually done in terms of integration – using a book as inspiration for an art project or reading aloud to young students.

“I hope to dig deeper and find other ways to integrate reading into the art room, even if it’s a reading nook with an art book library. It’s got to be very entertaining,” she said. “That’s the reason I want to go to another one of these workshops, because I need ideas.”

The A. Craig Phillips Scholarship, which honors the memory of the man who served as state school superintendent from 1968 to 1988, covers all costs associated with a teacher’s participation in NCCAT programming. The cash award goes for classroom needs.

One workshop on the NCCAT schedule has already caught Capel’s eye – Visually Literacy and Digital Learning Competencies for the Art Classroom – but she’s not yet committed. A teacher with wide-ranging interests, she previously completed science-based professional development with NCCAT.

Teaching art is what happened after Capel’s mother convinced her not to pursue an interest in cosmetology. She graduated from Austin Peay State University and started teaching in 2004. Outside of work, her attention is often consumed by the four dogs at home in Ayden, including two she’s fostering. “I have a love for dogs,” she said.