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MELISSA PETERSON

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Birth Date: 08/09/1972
Birth Place: Wichita, Kansas

Honored By

Donor names:   John Brown
Brown & Ann Stevens John
Ann Stevens
Date submitted: May 5, 2008
Gift: General Gift
Location on plaza map: C4
Areas of Achievement: Activism, Community Building, Education, Higher Education, Home Making, Literature, Volunteer
 
Melissa Peterson was the first member of her family to graduate from college with a Bachelorís degree in Elementary Education in 1994. She went on to receive her Masterís Degree in Bilingual and Multicultural Education (1996) and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership (2008) from the University of Arizona.

Melissaís career as an educator has included service as a bilingual elementary school teacher in Tucson Unified School District and Boulder Valley School District, a reading resource teacher, and Title 1 program facilitator in Sunnyside Unified School District. Early in her career, Melissa was moved by the words of a district administrator who told her that he had experienced the most power to make positive change for children as a school principal. These words inspired Melissa to pursue a career in administration.

The following email that she sent to friends and family following her graduation provides us with a snapshot of her experience as a working mother of two daughters relishing in the bliss of her accomplishment:

As I was running out of work the other day, (later than I had wanted to leave & in a hurry to get home to the girls) I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to kick off my heels & reached into my bag for my flip flops (very cool flip-flops, I might add - silver with little silver Buddhas on the toe for which I ridiculously overpaid). With my heart rate quickened from the run and adrenaline pumping, it hit me...I AM WONDER WOMAN!!! I slid into my flip flops with pride. No, the Buddha flip flops are not nearly as fantasy-evoking as a star-spangled leotard & go-go boots, but I can say with joy, that I, too, lead a double life. I am my own super-hero, with a daily wardrobe change in route to my more glorified role of saving the planet one precious little girl at a time.

Having woken up in the middle of the night to revel in my newly-graduated state of bliss, I can say with confidence, "Yes. It was worth it."

It was worth it because, like so many women before and after me, I AM WONDER WOMAN. Little did I know as I ran around solving imaginary crimes in my groovy Wonder Woman bathing suit with my sister Lizardo and best friend Steph in the 70's (ok...early 80's, too!) that I would one day realize the true feminist implications of Wonder Woman in my own life.

It isn't perfect. I will never look like Linda Carter (nor will I ever even plan my appearance far enough ahead to have sparkly lip gloss like the woman beside me at graduation last night), but the two women who live this life of mine have learned to live in happiness and peace with one another...MOST of the time.

Knowing that I made it to graduation was gratifying, but Chloe's words at dinner told me that despite all the time spent studying, writing, and in class these last 5 years, I am still a super-hero to at least one other person on this planet. She said, "Mom. I feel so much love for you. When I think of other people, I have a little bit of love for all of them, but when I think of you, there is a whole lot of love".

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the journey!
Melissa Noelle Peterson, Ed.D.
aka Wonder Woman

Melissa currently serves as the New Teacher Induction Coordinator for Tucson Unified School District. It is her great hope that the Tucson community will embrace its largest school district and advocate for the changes that will allow the district to thrive. She strongly believes that new teachers must be guided and supported as they enter the profession that lays the foundation for our nationís future.

Melissa is an advocate for parental involvement in schools, the voices of immigrant and minority families, and early childhood education. She has recently fallen in love with the Reggio Emilia-inspired approach to early childhood education.

Melissa finds daily joy in sharing the experience of raising her two young daughters with her husband, John. In her free time (LOL), Melissa likes to swim, read, share coffee, dinner, or a bottle of wine with friends, hike, camp, and most of all, travel with her family.