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After 17 years, Meadow School principal moves to McNear

Long-time Meadow School Principal Melisa Becker has been named principal of McNear Elementary School in the Petaluma City Schools District. She will assume her new duties on Nov. 18

For the past 17 years, Becker has served as Meadow School principal. She was Sonoma County Elementary Principal of the Year in 2009.

For the past five years she has also served as an adjunct professor in the Maker Space Certificate Program at Sonoma State University.

At Meadow School she has written numerous successful Petaluma Educational Foundation grants with her teacher teams, including grands for innovative physical education equipment, a school garden, hands-on science curriculum, musical instrument and confronting discrimination.

A pivotal grant in 2015 sparked the start of one of the first Maker Rooms in an elementary school. She partnered with the County Office of Education to create a space specifically designed to engage students in hands-on learning that simultaneously teaches STEAM and interpersonal relationships. For the past six years, Becker has run the non-technical side of the program, where students use everyday objects such as corks, rubber bands, paper clips, Legos, blocks, or marbles to complete a team challenge that requires planning, conversation, grit, and creativity.

Throughout the years, Becker has enjoyed watching students become builders, problem solvers, and confident explorers, ready to take on challenges inside and outside the classroom.

For the past five years, in addition to her role as principal, Becker has served as an adjunct professor in the Maker Space Certificate Program at Sonoma State University.

Becker received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UCLA and her teaching credential and her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University. She received her administrative credential from Sonoma State University.

Becker started her career as an elementary teacher for 10 years. As a teacher, she took on many duties, including Teacher-in-Charge, GATE Coordinator, Title One Coordinator, Mentor Teacher, and Program Quality Review Leadership Team member. While teaching in Connecticut, she was the founding teacher and curriculum developer for REACH, a 15-month program for underprivileged students aiming for college that continues to thrive 25 years after it was established.

Becker jumped into administration as an assistant principal at Brook Haven Middle School in the Sebastopol Unified School District and then as an assistant principal at Miller Creek Middle School in the Miller Creek School District.

At Brook Haven, she served as the District GATE Coordinator, Language Arts Curriculum Task Force Chairperson, and the Academic Intervention Coordinator.

At Miller Creek, she served as the STAR Testing Coordinator, Language Arts Assessment Coordinator, Academic Intervention Coordinator, and developed Language Arts tutorial classes. She concurrently worked as a national reading trainer for Ashlock Consulting.

Becker is an active member of the Instructional Leadership Corps, which is a collaboration of the California Teachers Association, SCOPE, and the National Board Resource Center at Stanford University where the work focuses on educator-driven professional development.

She said of her favorite times with students is when she rolls out her rainbow, unicorn-themed music cart to the playground during lunch on “Disco Fridays” to play music for the students and have a dance party.

She admits that, while she is a terrible basketball player, she has coached intramural basketball teams for years showing students that the value in an experience is not always about achieving perfection, but in learning and giving your best effort.

Becker serves on two boards: The Fabulous Women and The Rwanda School Project. The Fabulous Women work to inspire and support community members and have brought Hallowluma and Festival of Trees to Petaluma. She has traveled to Rwanda four times and is actively engaged in offering an education to 160 students at The Rwamagana Leaders School, which her family helped establish.

Becker has been a Petaluman for 24 years and lives with her husband Ben and two children, Hannah and Cole. Cole is currently a senior at Casa Grande High School. An avid runner, she has run one 50k, but prefers much shorter distances.

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