This is one of those stories about life’s full circle, where the student becomes the teacher.
After graduating from Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines in 1999, Melissa Dale went off to college and the Peace Corps before working at a Texas newspaper. One thing led to another, and she landed a job back in Iowa working with kids at the Woodward Academy. The experience affected her deeply, so she pursued and earned a master’s degree in secondary education from Drake University. Six years ago, she started teaching English language arts at Dowling, where she leads students in classes like Our Humanities, creative writing and composition. She also works with the school’s student council, summer leadership program and various running programs at the high school and middle school levels.
“I like working with young people,” says Dale. “I like their energy and enthusiasm. I like teaching them life experiences, too, because education isn’t limited to the classroom.”
Dale says that she enjoys incorporating faith in her lessons.
“I really like Dowling because it has a unique sense of community that is fostered by faith,” she says. “Last year, we had some tough losses at Dowling with the loss of a student and a guidance counselor. It was an emotional blow to everyone, so to be able to come together as a school through faith it really helped.”
Exploring one’s faith helps students to better understand literature, too, says Dale.
“We try to go beyond merely reading a novel,” she says. “We want students to explore their humanity and what makes people tick. We talk about that in our creative writing and composition classes.”
For Dale, there is no better place for her to work as a teacher.
“Dowling is a good fit for me,” she says. “I don’t see myself teaching anywhere else.”