Timmie created the team, and built the Speech and Drama program from the ground up.
In addition to her devotion to the performing arts, this speech educator is well versed in her pedagogy.
Timala “Timmie” Melancon, formerly a Hair, is a Gueydan native. Timmie graduated from Gueydan High School in the year 1971, and immediately began college at ULL pursuing a degree in choreographic design.
“My goal was to dance on Broadway. I was fortunate enough to be able to take dancing lessons as a child during the years when farming yielded a good crop, and I loved to perform. It did not take too many college classes for me to realize that I was ‘out of my league.’ A skinny little girl from Gueydan, Louisiana was nowhere near the skill level of the others in my classes who had been dancing all of their lives. I watched, studied, imitated and created, and just as I planned, I was soon capturing the attention of my professors. Before I realized it, life got in the way and I married, had children and settled into a world of diapers, little league baseball, Girl Scouts and bible school.”
Family life allowed Timmie multiple and repeated interactions with her community youth. It was through these enriching encounters that she discovered she was happiest when working with young people.
While her children were in school, Melancon returned to college to major in education.
After taking a speech education elective course, she fell in love with Communications. She finally found a career focus that was not only conducive to child rearing, but also allowed for the incorporation of performance into the curriculum.
In 1982, Timmie graduated from ULL with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Education.
The first four years of her teaching career wasspend at Rene Rost Middle, switching from eight to seventh grade reading. Overall, she thoroughly enjoyed the age range of this group due to their high energy level, which fuels Timmie’s positive attitude.
In 1986, she made the transfer to Kaplan High School, which today still remains her professional home.
It did not take long to discover the key to teaching success. “I learned to be kind, to make lessons entertaining, and then you could reach any child.”
During her 25 year employment with KHS, Timmie has taught a wide array of courses including English I, II, III and honors; Speech I, II, and III; Theatre I, II, III, and advanced; competition speech, and intervention.
In 1996, Timmie earned a Master of Arts Degree in English allowing her to qualify to participate in Louisiana’s Dual Enrollment Program.
Under her instruction, students can receive college credits for English 1010 and 1020, giving them a jump start on their higher education.
In addition, she piloted a mandatory Senior Project. With her support, seniors pick a prospective career path, find and shadow a mentor, and then present their findings in front of their peers. The teacher finds this assignment to be invaluable to students, allowing them the opportunity to experience whether they are suited for a profession before committing to a college major or vocation.
One of the most important aspects of teaching is to evolve along with the world. Technology plays a vital role in Timmie’s classroom. Through usage of a Promethean Board, Timmie’s students are able to enjoy interactive learning.
“Now, instead of just discussing Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, I can “Google” it and using my Promethean, give my students a virtual tour of the actual theatre. Even the most disconnected students sit up and take notice. My advanced theatre classes can create interactive flip charts or PowerPoints on any subject. Most recently I assigned them current innovative theatre and through their presentations, the entire class was able to experience some of the Cirque Du Soleil, Blue Man Group, Stomp and The Lion King. By evolving with my students, I am strengthening and improving the teaching profession.”
Her contribution to art and culture extends well beyond the classroom. In addition to creating the KHS Speech and Drama Team, which she led to countless victories and to achieve numerous accomplishments, Timmie also founded the Vermilion Players in 1996.
“Its members are high school students from Vermilion Parish who desire to be in a professionally produced musical; something that was not possible for these students in rural Vermilion Parish. Any student from any high school in Vermilion Parish could audition, and everyone who auditioned was cast. The school board paid to have every 7th and 8th grader in Vermilion Parish bused-in, to watch morning performances, and an entire generation of young people from all of our communities was exposed to the art of fun and entertaining theater. I am very proud that many of these students have found professions in the arts, are pursuing careers in the arts, are currently in college on scholarship in the arts, or receiving roles and even more importantly, filling empty seats in our community theatres.”
In response to her exemplary positive influence on the youth, she was recently bestowed two incredible honors. Vermilion Parish selected Timmie as High School Teacher of 2010-2011 school year. She was also voted Louisiana High School Speech League Coach of the Year.
In true Timmie fashion, she summarizes her career as a teacher and a coach by saying, “It is my responsibility as an educator to prepare young people for life after they leave my campus, and that is where I become passionate. The most effective teaching tool for anyone is the use of humor and I can use humor ‘like nobody’s business.’ Laughter is the key to life, and learning to laugh at one’s self is a key to success and happiness. Once a student learns to enjoy life, I can begin to instill in him the tools he needs to be poised, articulate, and well spoken. I can teach any student to use their energy and enthusiasm to achieve any goal simply by making them believe that if they work hard enough, it has to happen.”
As an afterthought, she remarked about her students, “Even on days when I don’t like them, I always love them. And they know that. They feel it.”
Timmie is married to Lonnie Melancon. She has four sons: Ben & Jeff Suire, and Rod & Zach Melancon. The Melancon’s also have five grandchildren. This year, she gladly embraces the opportunity to teach her oldest grandchild, a KHS Freshman.
Although she has cherished her years of teaching which total almost 30 years, Timmie is complacently facing the prospect of retirement in the near future.