Melissa Faulkner is a high school science teacher in Weymouth, MA, and the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization FNE International, a non-profit organization that partners with communities in developing nations to advance housing, health and education.
Melissa graduated as the co-salutatorian of William Floyd High School Class of 1995. She credits two of her William Floyd teachers, Mr. Heinz and Ms. Orofino, for igniting her passion for science. She attended Colgate University, graduating in 1999 with a degree in Molecular Biology and a minor in Education (not that she ever imagined at the time she would end up being a teacher). Upon graduating college, Melissa worked in NYC in an immunology lab at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and then moved to Boston in March of 2000 where she worked as a research assistant for a cell biology professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Realizing science “bench work” wasn’t for her, she pursued her master’s degree in education at night from UMass Boston thinking she could combine her two interests of science and education.
Melissa was hired by the Weymouth School District in Weymouth, MA, as a seventh-grade science teacher in the fall of 2002. She never envisioned teaching seventh graders, but grew to love it. She always tried to channel the enthusiasm for science shown to her by Mr. Heinz and Ms. Orofino. After 12 years of teaching seventh grade, Melissa decided she needed a change and transferred to the high school in her district. She started teaching integrated science and biology to the freshman class, and has since created and teaches forensic science class for upperclassmen. While she misses the seventh-grade age, she enjoys being able to mentor students and talk more with them about college and career planning. In addition to teaching, Melissa has been involved in her district in many other capacities over the years: softball coach, drama club director, union representative, science club advisor, district-wide science curriculum committee member and mentor teacher.
In the spring of 2010, Melissa’s colleague told her she was thinking of traveling to Nicaragua to do volunteer work with an organization called Friends NE. Having only secured a passport a little over a year before, Melissa had not traveled much internationally at that point. She decided to take a chance and to join her friend on the trip, where they helped to construct a house and visited schools in the rural community of Chacraseca. Little did she know how much that trip would change her and the course of her life. Melissa has since traveled to Nicaragua six times and has joined the Board of Directors of the organization, now called FNE International. The organization partners with communities in developing nations such as Nicaragua and Peru to advance housing, health and education. She works closely with the organization’s executive director, is the chairperson of the board, and does a lot of the behind-the-scenes administrative work for the organization.
Melissa currently lives by the beach in Hull, MA. She loves living in Massachusetts, but she is a New Yorker at heart and has stayed loyal to the NY sports teams. She is honored to be receiving this award and she dedicates it to her amazing mother, Eileen Cantone.