Academics / Community

Ms. Palmer takes on new challenges

Melissa Palmer joins the Dana Hall community this year as an Upper School math teacher, teaching geometry and pre-calculus. She also shows her capability and willingness to take on challenges through not only teaching a new subject, but also coaching JV Volleyball.

Ms. Palmer came from Vermont Academy, where she taught chemistry, physics, and pre-calculus. However, coming to Dana Hall, she decided that she wanted to change her focus to teaching math.

Although Ms. Palmer is an avid lover of science, which led her to teach science at her previous school, she decided that she wanted to push herself out of her comfort zone by teaching something that she was not necessarily the most comfortable with. Ms. Palmer acknowledges that she loved teaching science because she could make it fun with labs and experiments; however, she notes that “The reason that I loved chemistry and physics so much is because I really like the underlying math in both of them. They both prove through math how the world works.” This influenced her decision to become a math teacher with the goal to make math class a fun environment without being able to use labs and experiments to assist that goal.  

In addition to academic classes, Ms. Palmer has also coached tennis and ice hockey at her previous school, and despite her inability to ice-skate, she enjoyed coaching both sports. She loves the supportive atmosphere that goes hand in hand with teams, and at Dana Hall she has decided to turn a new leaf in her coaching career and coach JV Volleyball, after enjoying playing volleyball recreationally at her previous school. In addition, she has aspirations to continue coaching at Dana Hall in the spring through either softball or tennis. 

Although she loved her previous school, Ms. Palmer says that what made her choose to teach at Dana Hall was the environment here. In her own high school years,  Ms. Palmer attended Castilleja School in California, an all-girls school similar to Dana Hall. She notes, “By the time I graduated as a senior, I felt like my class of graduating girls were honestly sisters… And when I saw Dana Hall, I just had this gut feeling of ‘this is going to be a magical place,’ and I wanted to be a part of that community.”

As a result of her own experience with all-girls schools, the traditions at Dana Hall don’t faze her. Even though things might be confusing at first, after some explanations she enjoys watching the traditions take place. Senior Sophomore was one of her favorite traditions thus far because of the similarities that it holds to a tradition at her own high school involving both underclassmen and upperclassmen. Beyond that, she says, “It’s a sweet tradition when both sides — the Senior coming up with the outfit and the Sophomore who’s wearing it — say, this is going to be fun. We are all in. This is going to be a day of weirdness, but a moment of feeling love and connection.”

During her free time, Ms. Palmer enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking on trails or taking long walks, as well as doing yoga, baking, and spending time with her cat, Miss Money Penny.  

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