Superpower Spotlight: Teacher Ms. Melissa Brandenburg
Submission from Ms. Melissa Brandenburg
A student of mine was having a very hard day. They had overheard news of a grown-up in their life having a life-threatening illness on top of them having their own trauma and working through their own “stuff”. The student has their own trauma triggered when they are escorted to break out spaces. On this particular day, the student was escorted to a break-out space, was screaming, and trying to attack staff physically. I came into the room knowing there was a chance I could be hurt on the job but also love my students with all I can give them. When I got into the space, the student was trying to push me aside. With my calm voice, I reiterated to my student I loved them, I was here for them and I will work with them through whatever we needed to work through. My student, being almost as tall as me, threw their arms around me, stopped crying, and calmly said, “Ms. Melissa, your heartbeat is calming me down. It is beating slowly and I can tell you are calm.”
After returning to my classroom, my male staff asked how I was doing and I immediately broke down, cried in his arms as he reminded me he was proud of me. He also reminded me “we aren’t robots and although we carry a lot of their “stuff” with us, we need to let it go too. If you need to cry, you can cry. Our room is a safe space.” I cried, had a student in literacy tell me “this is a safe space to cry”, and carried on with my day.