HAWLEY—Continuing coverage of Teacher Appreciation Week, focus shifts to Wallenpaupack Area High School Business, Computers, Information Technology (BCIT) instructor Melissa Monte.

Monte has been a dedicated teacher at Wallenpaupack for the last seven years. Before that, she spent two years teaching at Valley View and many others before that teaching at schools in New Jersey.

Having originally studied for a business degree, Monte said she began work toward her teaching certificate in the early 90s to honor her mother.

Monte said her mother had been a teacher for many years. She was diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer as Monte was graduating with her undergraduate degree in business. When her mother passed away in 1990, Monte said she was inspired to follow in her footsteps.

Monte says what she loves most about teaching is “the ability to impact lives and open students' eyes to opportunities they've never had before.”

She said teaching is “incredibly rewarding” even years later.

Utilizing her business acumen, Monte offers a “virtual business” course she imported from her classroom experience in New Jersey.

Open to sophomores and older, the “virtual business” course teaches students about the ins and outs of running a business not through lectures and textbooks, but rather by allowing the students to run their own mock business.

Monte said that each year the class partners with a different local business to establish their own replica company which they then modify and run in its entirety.

Every aspect of the business is addressed and run by the students in a very hands-on manner, said Monte. “They're not reading a case in a book, they're living it in the real world,” she said.

This year's business is Evergreen Lodge, formed through the class' partnership with Woodloch Pines.

Monte said the class was able to get a behind the scenes look at how Woodloch runs its business and crucial advice and feedback from company co-owner Bob Kiesendahl to inform their own strategies.

Thanks to Monte's tutelage, the students' were so successful with their Evergreen Lodge, they were able to present their virtual company at the Mid-Atlantic Trade Fair held earlier this year in March at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The students planned and organized every aspect of the trip, treating it like it was a real business trip.

Monte's virtual business class is quite popular. Students often take it multiple times to experience the running a new business.

In addition to the virtual business class, Monte teaches introductory classes in business and computing.

Monte also has a vital role in the success of Wallenpaupack's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club.

When she started at Wallenpaupack, Monte said the FBLA club contained ten students, one of which advanced to state level competition.

This year, the club features 127 students, 60 of which made it to states in Hershey. Of those 60, 24 advanced to nationals and will be competing in Anaheim from June 29 through July 3.

Monte is looking to further her educational skill set with a Master's degree in School Counseling from Marywood University.

Monte said that she is grateful that her district is “overwhelmingly supportive.” She described the administration and other teachers and staff as “a full-on team,” stating she is “lucky to be here and lucky to have [that support] because its not found everywhere.”

Wallenpaupack Superintendent Michael Silsby spoke highly of Monte when he nominated her for this article, citing her work with the virtual business class and the FBLA club as critical parts of her service to the school.