Teacher Feature: Bulverde Creek's Javier Melendez
Javier Melendez has been teaching North East ISD elementary school students for 28 years.
“I have learned that the teacher I am now is not who I was when I started.”
When you walk into Melendez’s room at Bulverde Creek Elementary School, you can instantly see 28 years of teaching.
There are shelves full of books and cups of pencils.
There are also 100 or so M&M’s dispensers, stuffed M&M’s toys, and other M&M’s tchotchkes.
“The kids call me Mr. M. So, it just kind of happened.”
There are art and posters, most drawn by Mr. M, full of motivation and fun.
There are drawings of penguins.
Mr. M doesn’t really love penguins, but he learned how to draw one and now draws a penguin for every student in his class every year.
There’s also an envelope taped near the ceiling with the note, “Do not open until the last day of school.”
It’s a sort of time capsule for the year, something for the students to open on the last day to see how much they have learned or changed.
It’s also just for fun.
“I always ask for the winner of the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year. But, unfortunately, we’ve only gotten it right once. We have a lot of Cowboys fans, so we don’t get it right often.”
There are also a dozen or so recognitions from former students who have graduated Summa Cum Laude years after leaving Mr. M’s classroom.
“Those mean a lot.”
Through all the M&M’s, penguins and motivational posters, there’s one thing at the center of the class—the students.
And that’s the most important thing to Melendez.
His students are his focus.
Despite being a teacher, he’s actually not that worried about grades--he’s concerned with the kids.
“I’ve said that grades aren’t a reflection of potential. It’s what’s turned in. I’m more interested if you love to read. Are you a good person, or do you enjoy coming to school? Can you do things independently on your own? Because as fifth-grade teachers, we’re getting kids ready for middle school. And so they have to be ready for that. It doesn’t have to be about good grades. It just means, ‘Can you survive middle school and be the best you can be?’”
So year after year, he prepares students for the next step.
He’s watched generations grow up and graduate.
He’s seen his students succeed beyond his classroom--build families and careers.
At that point, it’s not about grades--it’s all about relationships.
“When I taught third grade, I had one boy. He was really tough. We got very little done, I thought. Then, when I moved to fifth grade, he came back to my class. And so then, we already had a relationship that I thought was not great. But we were able to build. And so then he really soared. And so just things like that, those that you didn’t think you reached, and I did. I was a constant for him. He’s gone off to the Navy now and doing great.”
That relationship and so many others like it, cultivated over 28 years of teaching, keep Mr. M coming back to the classroom.
He knows he’s just a chapter in these students’ lives, but he hopes it’s a story they love telling—because he certainly loves every chapter his students have added to his life and career.
posted on: 04/14/2022