Education

Melissa Chiodo, Principal of Reynolds Elementary School

Melissa Chiodo
Photo Provided by Melissa Chiodo

1. What is your education background and current role?

I went to UNC Charlotte to obtain my Bachelor of Arts in Education with a Minor in English and Communications. I then attended Le Moyne College to get my Masters in Special Education in 2002 and Certificate of Advanced Study in 2009.

I spent 12 years working in the Syracuse City School District where I taught every level in K-8, reading, and was also an instructional coach.  I came to Baldwinsville in 2011 as an Assistant Principal and took over Reynolds Elementary School as Principal since 2015.  This is my sixth year as Principal of the school and my 10th year in Baldwinsville.

2. How have you been able to integrate your love of animals for the benefit of your staff and students?

I have always loved animals since a very early age. I grew up with dogs and have always been passionate about making sure animals have a voice. A couple years into my principalship, we had an area organization bringing in therapy dogs to our students and I saw the positive impact it had on not just the students, but also the staff. District leadership was extremely supportive of staff bringing in their own trained service dogs. I researched different dog breeds and decided to purchase an Aussiedoodle in 2018. Lulu is a mid-sized Aussiedoodle and weighs about 34 pounds. I bought a second Aussiedoodle, Mac, in the fall of 2019. Mac was bred as a mini but weighs about 25 pounds. I trained both in Syracuse. A requirement in our district is the K-9 Good Citizen’s Certification.

Bringing the dogs in, especially now, had been a tremendous asset for staff, students, and myself. Watching Lulu or Mac interact with the students or staff and the smiles it creates on their faces is amazing. I introduced Literature with Lulu last fall with our students, and we continued it remotely this fall with our online learners. Like children, both dogs have different personalities, and they are loved by kids for their personalities. It has been a labor of love for me and to share that with our Reynolds Family has allowed me to share something I never imagined I would have the opportunity to do when I entered education.

3. How is the school year different now, then from the beginning of the year?

As we are bringing back more students, the challenge now is that we still must be cognizant of the safety standards established and vigilant to ensure the social, emotional, and learning needs of our students are met. Families have worked hard while students were remote to continue instruction, but some students still struggle with getting back in the routines of school.

Know an educator who deserves a mention? Email courtneyk@familytimescny.com.

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