LEAD Academy High School math teacher Melissa Martens was named today as one of 46 teachers in Davidson County to be chosen for a Blue Ribbon Award by Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

“I am so proud of Melissa's work in her classroom and with our students,” said Head of School LaVoe Mulgrew. “This Blue Ribbon Award honors her commitment to her craft and to our families. She is an exemplary teacher and we are incredibly fortunate to have her on the LEAD Academy staff. We have so many hardworking and dedicated teachers, and Melissa is an outstanding representative for all of them. This award is much-deserved.”

Martens, who has taught at LEAD Academy since 2013, said she was “incredibly honored” to receive the award.

“Teaching is more than a job to me,” she said. “It is a calling and a passion. I believe that education is one of the most powerful ways to influence the world. I am very grateful to be surrounded with incredible colleagues at LEAD who support me in becoming a better teacher and our students in reaching their highest potential. It is extremely meaningful to know that my work is making a difference and impacting the lives of students.”

Martens earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science, with a minor in business administration, from MidAmerica Nazarene University. The Omaha, Neb., native holds a master’s degree in education from Vanderbilt University. She began her teaching career as a middle school English teacher in Cheonan City, South Korea, via the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program through Korea Nazarene University.

She was nominated for the award by senior Brandon Oglesby-Swett, who graduated on May 19 and is headed to Hendrix College.

“Ms. Martens is an extremely positive influence on her students in the classroom,” he wrote in his submission. “(She is) entertaining, supportive and commanding at the same time. She is completely aware of each student’s strengths and weaknesses and groups students in ways that allow for them to get the most benefit from her class.”

Martens was selected through a highly rigorous selection process that involves an experts' panel along with civic and community leaders reviewing nominations and determining those teachers deserving of special community recognition and commendation, according to Metro Schools.

More than 700 nominations were received this year. To read the MNPS news release, please open the file below. 

“I work at LEAD because I believe that every child deserves access to rigorous education and the opportunity to attend college,” Martens said. “I love working for LEAD because I am surrounded by educators who are not only committed to training and supporting students to be academically successful in college, but also care deeply for each of our students.”

As a Blue Ribbon teacher, Martens will attend a special reception on Monday at the Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Residence, where she and other award winners will receive a $1,000 check from community supporters. The award is made possible through a joint partnership between MNPS, the Nashville's Agenda Steering Committee and the Nashville Public Education Foundation.

“We are honored that Metro would recognize the tremendous body of work put forth by Melissa Martens every day at LEAD Academy,” said CEO Chris Reynolds. “Melissa is an example for all of our LEAD staff members, all of whom are focused and determined. Our teachers come to work ready to impact the lives of every one of our students and families so that they all receive the equitable education they deserve.”