ASHBURNHAM – Oakmont Regional High School history and social studies teacher Melissa Martin is the school’s 35th annual Excellence in Education award winner.
The school bestows the award on a faculty member each year.
Martin is the sixth history teacher to receive the Excellence Award since its inception 35 years ago. She lives in Leominster, where she is raising her son Drew, and was presented with the award on June 23 at a ceremony that included a speech by R. Lincoln Stiles Jr., a fellow history teacher at Oakmont.
“As a 15-year veteran of the Oakmont faculty and a 29-year veteran of the district, Ms. Martin’s impassioned work as a history teacher has earned her the respect and admiration of the students, faculty and administration,” Stiles Jr. said.
Martin’s stellar educational trajectory and career began with a Bachelor of Science degree in history from the University of Maine at Orono in 1992, and later earning a master’s and a C.A.G.S. degree in History Education from Fitchburg State College, now Fitchburg State University.
Martin joined the school district in 1994 as a junior high school social studies teacher at Oakmont. When Overlook Middle School opened in 1995, she transitioned there to teach 7th grade social studies and became a faculty advisor for the Spirit Council, a member of the Overlook Technology Team, and ran multiple mock elections for students.
In addition, Martin helped plan and chaperone multiple 8th-grade class trips to Washington, D.C., brought back the National Geography Bee to Overlook, and instituted a High Five Program and Harmony Week to teach student acceptance of all. She rejoined the staff at Oakmont in 2008, where she developed a Women in World History curriculum, served as class advisor for the classes of 2017 and 2021, and will be the incoming freshman class’s advisor this coming school year.
Martin has served multiple years as a member of the David Nims Library, Thomas Anderson Collection committee, mentored multiple teachers, served on many interview committees, and traveled to China for a study-tour program to help enrich the classes she taught.
“Ms. Martin has guided many students throughout her years in the district and is looked upon highly by those students, especially those who have taken her Women in World History and psychology courses,” Stiles Jr. said at the awards ceremony. “As school counselor Amy Dubovick attests, ‘Melissa is constantly reworking her Women in World History curriculum and implementing new strategies to convey topics to students so that they can understand topics from many perspectives. Many alumni who return for a visit report that Melissa’s psychology class prepared them so well for their college level psychology class, that they found their college class easy. She is so collaborative and insightful and shares her perspective to truly understand how to serve individual students’ needs.’”
“Beyond her exceptional teaching skills, Melissa exhibits remarkable kindness, patience, and support for her students,” said Wendy LeBlanc, a business teacher at Oakmont. “She creates a safe and inclusive classroom environment where students feel comfortable expressing themselves and exploring new ideas. Her genuine care for their well-being resonates with both the students and the staff, fostering an atmosphere of respect and admiration.’”
“Ms. Martin often meets with teachers at Oakmont inquiring about the needs of her students, as well as the well-being of her colleagues,” Stiles Jr. said. “She is a kind and caring individual who understands that delivering sound instruction can only be successful if both students and teachers are in a safe and comforting environment. (She) is just a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to share what she can with colleagues and students. No matter what the situation, she will do her best to help those who seek her advice, whether student or teacher. And that advice always comes with a smile that makes whomever she is talking with feel better about their situation moving forward. It’s Melissa’s ability to work with people of all ages that makes her such an invaluable asset to our school.
“During her 29-year tenure at both Overlook and Oakmont, Ms. Martin has been part of the foundation that makes our schools so successful. She is the voice of reason in turbulent times and a proponent of change when a change is necessary. As a mentor to numerous teachers, she helps those who need guidance while learning the art of teaching. History Department Chair Dana Altobelli may have stated it best, ‘Melissa is a consummate professional, and always cheerful. She is always willing to help where she can and she can compartmentalize school, family, and free time like no other. She isn’t only the backbone of our history department she is the rock-solid core of Oakmont.’”