LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Melinda Clay

Position: Retiring Title I Math Teacher
School: Piedmont Elementary School
School District: Kanawha County Schools
City, State: Charleston, WV

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Melinda Clay was nominated by her principal, Ashley James.

Ms. Clay has dedicated her lifelong career to the students of West Virginia. She grew up in rural Wyoming County, WV. She attended Marshall University before returning to Wyoming County and beginning her teaching career. Eventually, Ms. Clay moved to Charleston, WV and dedicated the remainder of her career to the students of Kanawha County, particularly on the Westside and East End of Charleston. These are both inner-city areas in West Virginia.

"When I began my career, it was at Chandler Elementary, where Melinda was a third grade teacher. I was a young teacher who recently graduated college, and Chandler quickly became my home," said James. "Melinda quickly became my friend. She took me under her wing and helped me develop my own teaching style."

Ms. Clay had a unique way with her students. She treated them like her own. She built positive relationships with their families and grew to love each and every one of them. Ms. Clay was giving and thoughtful, and she was always looking out for her students and colleagues alike. She enjoyed teaching students in need, and she worked tirelessly to help her students grow, regardless of their economic status or background."

"Sometime in our careers, we parted ways when I became an administrator, but we never ended our friendship. She continued her teaching career, and I became a principal," said James. "We always kept in touch. She was my friend, and I looked up to her for advice because she was always positive and helpful."

"As fate would have it, we both ended up at the same school again, Piedmont Elementary School," said James. "This time, things were slightly different. I was her principal, and she was teaching Title 1 Math. At the same time, nothing had changed. She was still as amazing as ever. Now, I got to work alongside my friend and mentor. It seemed like her love for students had grown. She took pride in her job, whether it was working with struggling students, studying for Math Field Day, or setting up tables for Family Nights. Melinda would jump in and get the job done. She is the shining example of what a teacher should be."

Ms. Clay's career didn't end as planned. She underwent some medical procedures, and she wasn't able to return to school as expected. She was devastated, and she missed her students and her friends. Ms. Clay wasn't able to visit like she wanted, but she kept up with everyone through phone and emails. Finally, after being out of the school building for almost the whole year, she was able to return in March 2020. She proudly announced that she would return for the last nine weeks before entering retirement. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had other plans.

"Melinda's plans were changed with COVID-19 amongst us," said James. "Melinda didn't get to say her proper goodbye, but she will never be forgotten. She will truly be missed by her students and colleagues. She has been a tremendous asset to the students of West Virginia for over three decades."



Comments (13)


Karen Bowling Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations Melinda! I hope your retirement years will be as wonderful as your Teaching Career.??

Karen Davies Posted 5 months ago

You are a great teacher & have made a difference for so many children. I will miss seeing you. Enjoy retirement!

Tiffany Caldwell Posted 5 months ago

You are truly amazing. From the moment you became the boys teacher, you not only helped, nurtured and taught them, but you always offered me words of advice and encouragement. The world needs more caring, loving and supportive people and educators like you. You will truly be missed and my family wishes you all the best! Thank you for being such a blessing to so many families, especially mine.

Janet Allio Posted 5 months ago

Melinda, You have always been a light in my world- your love for others is reflected in the sparkle of your eyes and your beautiful smile. You are a life changer. God has blessed me with your friendship. May He continue to bless and keep you tight in His arms. ??&???? Janet

Gail Francis Posted 5 months ago

Way to go Melinda !! You will be missed !!! I love you tons !!!!!

Ali Posted 5 months ago

Melinda is a life changer. I know this because I worked opposite her 2nd grade class room with my students who had significant learning differences. As one student with autism progressed, it was decided he would benefit from additional grade level interaction. Melinda had volunteered before I finished asking the question. She adapted her curriculum so he could access it. She gave him responsibility for the calendar as it was important to him that it was changed to his standard of perfection. Melinda has the best interests of all children in her heart.

Katrina Helm Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations and best wishes on your next endeavor. I truly enjoyed working with you. They need more dedicated teachers like you.

GloriaDrichmond Posted 5 months ago

Thanks for your service and take time to enjoy your life and family. Time is something you can’t get back but you were left with enough to find yourself after giving of yourself.Enjoy

Sarah Baumgardner Posted 5 months ago

Melinda, I didn’t work with you long, but it didn’t take long to see what an amazing educator you were! You were the calm the kids needed! You loved them, you met them where they were, and you brought them places they didn’t think they could go! I hope you enjoy your retirement, and always know what a difference maker you were ??

Nikki White Posted 5 months ago

I worked with Melinda 3 years ago at Piedmont. I was a speech therapist for KCS at the time. She is truly one of the best, warm hearted, kind teachers I have ever encountered. She always went above and beyond for her students and also was open to collaborate with myself and recommendations for our shared students. She is a team player as a staff member and such an amazing person!

Toma Young Posted 5 months ago

Melinda is the best! Always so sweet and kind to “her kids”. She loved all of them and worked hard to help them to succeed! There’s is no better person for this award!!!

Charles Moss Posted 5 months ago

I am going to blow your phone up when we need a sub.

Lynn Tucker Posted 5 months ago

Thank you so much for being a wonderful teacher to both Dareian and Keegon you are appreciate!!!! Happy Retirement