Meet the teacher: Melissa Braillard

Teaching math at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

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Melissa Braillard with Emma Braillard.

Every now and then, the Times will profile Island teachers. Interviewer Sophia McCarron is a junior at MVRHS and an MVTimes intern.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Rockland Massachusetts.

What made you come to the Island?

I came to the Island to waitress and make money. I got a job at Nancy’s in Oak Bluffs and I’ve worked there for eight or nine years. I took one year off the summer I had my son, but I work there a couple nights a week while still teaching.

What made you want to become a teacher?

I had a teacher in the eighth and ninth grade named Alana Bailey; she made me really love math. By the end of my high school career I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

Do you ever have challenging days?

Some days you think ‘why did I do this?’ but there are definitely more good days than bad days.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

My favorite part about teaching is probably interacting with my students. With math, I know not everybody loves it or fully understands it and my goal is that at least for the time that they’re in my room, they feel confident about what they’re doing and they’re not feeling like they can’t understand it.

What do you do when you’re not in school?

Well mostly I spend time with my 4-year-old daughter and my 18-month old son. In the summer I go to the beach every day with my other friends who have kids the same age. In January, I’m going back to school to get my masters degree so I’ll be taking courses here and online. That will consume a lot of my time too. But other than that I like hanging out with my friends and having a good time.

Were you a good student in school?

I would say I was above average, but I wouldn’t say I was at the top. I got honor roll, not always high honor roll. I played sports all through high school, so I had to make sure my grades were up for that.

What sports did you play?

I was a cheerleader in the fall, I played basketball in the winter, and I ran track in the spring. I also did some all-star cheerleading during their offseason, so sometimes I was playing two sports at one time.

Do you see yourself teaching for the rest of your career?

Yes, for the foreseeable future. My family has a lot of restaurants, so if I weren’t teaching I could see myself doing something in customer service, but unless I really go into business for myself, I probably will remain teaching.

What is your favorite restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard?

In the summertime I have a different favorite than I do in the winter. Right now my favorite place to eat is probably Offshore; in the summertime I like Nancy’s because it’s like home, or the Lookout — places where you feel comfortable.

What is your favorite place on the Vineyard?

Really any of the beaches — they’re all so different and beautiful in their own way,

Do you get annoyed by tourists and the summer rush?

Sometimes in the summer you get frustrated because with all the people it may be hard to get things done, but I also see the other side. I am lucky to live in a place where people want to go on vacation.

What do you think about plans to build affordable housing on the Vineyard, especially for teachers?

I think it’s great. As a new teacher, I didn’t struggle finding housing because my husband, who was my fiancé at the time, already had a place to live. But any way we can help new teachers come and stay here is a benefit for us as a school.

Do you feel like it’s a prevalent issue among the faculty?

In the high school at least, we don’t have a big turnover right now, so maybe in the future years when we have more of a turnover it will turn into a larger issue.

If there was one thing you could do to benefit the school, what would it be?

Personally, right now I’m so busy with two young kids, but I’d like to get more involved in clubs or different committees in the school. I definitely want to become more involved as my kids get older.

What would you say is your proudest moment?

Probably becoming a mom. Almost every day I see something my kids do and I go, “Oh wow.” You just didn’t realize how overwhelming being a mother can be — in a good way — until you become one.

Do you have any role models?

My mom is one of my biggest role models. She does so many things for so many people. I would be lucky to be even part of the person that she is today. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like her. And my dad – he’s one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met. The two of them have just opened a restaurant in Hyannis at the ages of 57 and 56.

He’s there everyday. He’s the first one to get there and leaves at two o’clock in the morning. If he has a vision or a dream of something, he pushes for it.

Do you try to impart that drive to your kids and students?

I try to motivate kids, but they should want to learn and get good grades for themselves, not for anybody else. I also try to get to really get to know the kids. If they’re on a sports team I try to go to their games or if they’re in theater I try to go to the play. The more you care about them, the more they’re going to care about what they’re doing in your class.