Oviedo teacher helps students learn outside the box

Evans Elementary School teacher Melissa Vaccaro transforms classroom

OVIEDO, Fla. – Learning outside the box is the mission of one teacher in Oviedo. 

Evans Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Melissa Vaccaro says she strives to be the "wild card" in her students' lives, bringing them lessons so unique that they stick with them.

Part of her approach involves classroom transformations, with lesson plans tied to Florida Standards. In previous months, she has transformed her classroom into Candyland, Outer Space, Frozen, and UCF Black and Gold Day. 

Vaccaro's latest classroom transformation was Pink Day, which included a pink-themed room with reading and writing lessons tied to the anti-bullying message of Pink Shirt Day. The idea stemmed from the figurative language in the singer Pink's lyrics and a reading exercise about the artist's charity work.

The exercises all tied back into helping the class prepare for their FSA writing test this week.

"Just make one little change. It doesn't have to be something on this grand scheme of things, it could be something very little, but just one difference in a child's life can mean the world to them," Vaccaro said.

"I learn without even knowing I'm learning. That's how I learn quicker," said Miya Cunningham, a fourth-grade student. 

Vaccaro has been teaching for 22 years and says she loves her students like they were her own children.  She hopes her creative lessons not only inspire her students, but other teachers as well.

"She wants it to be fun, but that's not her goal. Her goal is for the students to experience what she's teaching. She takes them on an adventure," teacher and parent Courtney Long said.
To see an extended version of Vaccaro's Pink Day, check out the video below.


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