Melissa Kmetz, a third-grade language arts instructor at Lakeview Elementary School in Cortland, Ohio, has been named the 2023 Ohio Teacher of the Year. With nearly two decades of experience in education, she has spent the past 17 years at Lakeview Elementary, where she is known for her dedication to making learning connections that go beyond the classroom.
Kmetz’s focus on teaching her students to work together for the common good is a theme that runs through her lesson plans. “It’s just really getting them to see that their hard work can reach out into the community and also other countries, as well,” she says. “That there’s a reason they’re doing everything. Not just that ‘A’ on a paper, but that they can use what they know to make the world a better place.”
One of Kmetz’s strengths is her ability to connect her students with the larger world outside of their classroom. She incorporates diverse texts into her teaching, encouraging her students to have a global mindset. Each year, Kmetz leads her students on a community project that uplifts and helps others while educating students about the world. These projects have included supporting individuals impacted by natural disasters, helping terminally ill children, creating comfort kits for children in foster care and supporting local animal shelters.
The language arts teacher’s dedication to her students and her innovative teaching methods have not gone unnoticed. She was nominated for the Ohio Teacher of the Year award by a parent, Mesa Bush, who says that Kmetz holds all students in high regard and goes above and beyond to make each student feel special. “Miss Kmetz exudes positivity in her classroom and strives toward sharing cultural diversity with her students,” Bush says. “Her passion for volunteering is shared with students, and she includes them in some of her charitable work. Miss Kmetz is a great role model to the students at Lakeview Elementary.”
As the 2023 Ohio Teacher of the Year, Melissa Kmetz will represent Ohio in the National Teacher of the Year selection process. Kmetz says she is looking forward to representing all teachers across the state and shining a light on the wonderful things going on in education. “There are so many wonderful things going on in education, and the communities don’t always get to see that,” she says. “So hopefully I can just kind of shine a light on that.”
Interim State Superintendent of Public Instruction Stephanie Siddens praises Kmetz’s teaching approach, saying, “She gives students the building blocks to be lifelong learners and shows how they can make a positive difference for their classmates, neighbors, and individuals across the globe. She takes time to build relationships with every child and their families and connects her classroom lessons to projects that demonstrate real-world problem-solving, kindness, and care.”
Melissa Kmetz’s passion for teaching and her dedication to her students have earned her the honor of being named the 2023 Ohio Teacher of the Year. Her innovative teaching methods and commitment to community involvement are an inspiration to her students and colleagues alike. She is a shining example of the kind of teacher that makes a positive impact on students’ lives both in and out of the classroom.