Eagles in the Cafe – Story Honoring Melba Carr
By: Kris Horst
“The café is open today,” Mrs. Carr explains. Mrs. Melba Carr is the 8th grade science teacher for the Eagles pod at Walter J. Baird Middle School. And, no, she is not running a real café restaurant. But she is dishing up science in a way that is so energetic and inspiring that I am compelled to share her story with you.
At first glance, the first thing you might notice about Mrs. Carr is the colorful scarf covering her head after many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. The second thing that you will quickly realize is that Melba is feisty, energetic, and full of life. She serves as the Eagles’ team leader, department chair for the science department, as well as the grade level chair for 8th grade science. Melba somehow fits radiation treatments and doctor appointments into her busy day. I have seen her lecture a class, explaining a new Tennessee standard from a rolling chair when it became too uncomfortable to walk. On the days that she cannot be at school, she is still tirelessly working at home and keeping in touch with the staff via e-mail. When I have a day that I feel like I could stay in bed, I remember, “If Melba can show up and give it her all today, so can I.”
In addition to the above reasons, it is obvious that Mrs. Carr is called to be a teacher. She is loved and respected by students and staff alike. Melba has a true love of science, and she has a way of passing that interest to her students. She is open to new teaching techniques; she does whatever it takes to keep her students involved and interested. Sometimes this involves using power point presentations, videos, foldable study guides, or even running a pretend café.
Add to all of this a contagious sense of humor, and you have the total package. I have seen Melba use some crazy mnemonic devices to retain the information she is teaching. I guarantee her former students can name all of the tectonic plates and can tell the difference between an angiosperm and gymnosperm to this day due to her zany ways to remember them. Just ask our school’s principal, Mr. Benson, about the time Mrs. Carr dressed up a chloroform-drenched dissection frog to look like him (tie and all!) and placed it on Mr. Benson’s personal toilet. Or ask her yourself about “the one about the tall student and the Bunsen burner.” That particular story had her team of teachers literally rolling on the floor laughing. Melba can laugh and smile through her pain; her inner beauty shines through.
To conclude, Mrs. Melba Carr is the most inspiring teacher I know. She possesses a tireless energy of the likes that I have never seen. She has been gifted with a tremendous teaching talent. She has a wonderful sense of humor. “The café is closed today,” explains Mrs. Carr. What will she have in store for the class today? I can’t wait to find out!