image of davita melander

Story by Ainsley Hall

MARTINSBURG — Davita Melander, a science teacher from Spring Mills Middle School, was named the new president of the West Virginia Science Teachers Association (WVSTA).

Through this new role, Melander will lead the group and help put together the statewide conference, in addition to teaching her students in the classroom.

WVSTA started in 1985 when a group of teachers in West Virginia wanted to come together and help fellow teachers develop and reform science education throughout the state. Since then, the organization has grown. Now, it hosts a conference every year, where science teachers across the state gather to learn and create more opportunities for their students.

Melander first got involved with WVSTA in 2016, when she received information about the organization. Though she started out as an English teacher, Melander started teaching science when she moved to Spring Mills Middle School. She learned that WVSTA had a special cohort for Earth and space science teachers, and she decided to give it a try.

“I loved it,” Melander said. “I was new to teaching science, but being there gave me a lot of confidence. I was able to build new ideas and friendships with other science teachers. After that first experience, I wanted to get more involved.”

She eventually decided to run for secretary. This year, when the WVSTA was looking for a new president, someone suggested that she try to run. Though Melander wasn’t sure at first, she decided to do it and was elected for a two-year term.

Her term is just starting, but Melander is looking forward to finding different ways to reach out to teachers and get them involved. One way she plans on doing this is by creating a place where they can publish peer-reviewed lesson plans for members of WVSTA. The goal is for the lessons to focus on reaching the standards within the state and made specifically for West Virginia teachers.

“What makes me love WVSTA is that when I’m at the conference, I’m with my people,” Melander said. “We have the same interests and passions. We’re all in the same boat and have similar mindsets. It’s inspiring being around fantastic teachers.”

Melander continues to teach at Spring Mills Middle School, in addition to her new position. She has 16 years of experience in the classroom and is passionate about helping students. She particularly loves teaching eighth-grade students and hopes her new position with the WVSTA will continue to help her and other teachers provide an even better education for them.