Staff Spotlight: Melissa Walker

Staff Spotlight: Melissa Walker
Program Trainer and Facilitator of our Adult, Family, & Community Empowerment (AFACE) Program

Melissa Walker currently serves as a Program Trainer and Facilitator of our Adult, Family, & Community Empowerment (AFACE) Programs at Helping Education.

As part of her work, Melissa facilitates literacy and parenting Motheread classes with incarcerated mothers at Anson Women’s Correctional Facility and Western Women’s Correctional Facility. Our Motheread/Fatheread program is an evidence-based curriculum that builds parents’ literacy skills and empowers them to share the love of reading with their children. Motheread/Fatheread is a strength-based model that strives to treat each participant with dignity and respect for all the wisdom and gifts each parent brings. Additionally, Melissa leads Story Exploring and BABY trainings with organizations throughout NC and the country.

Melissa joined the organization in 2019 as a HELPS tutor and began working as an Implementation Coach and Trainer. She was exposed to our Motheread/Fatheread program throughout her time on staff. As a longtime educator and a former literacy facilitator, she recognized the impact Motheread/Fatheread could have on the students they were working with. She felt drawn to become more involved with Motheread/Fatheread and other AFACE programs, which are tied to her passion for promoting family literacy. She says, “I love how Motheread/Fatheread specifically supports the whole family system by strengthening literacy among parents and supporting their connection and bond with their children through literacy.”

Melissa has been on staff with Helping Education for more than five years and has experienced numerous transitions throughout her tenure. As she reflected on adjusting to bring our HELPS programs and trainings to an online format when the challenges of the COVID pandemic hit, she said, “I am proud that we were able to successfully continue HELPS fluency tutoring with students with crucial one-on-one support during the difficult days of remote learning and we were able to effectively train and support tutors through online tutoring as well.”

Melissa is passionate about equity and access to education. She explains that a lack of strong literacy access and skills creates a big divide with resources, opportunities and upward mobility, which contributes to generational cycles of poverty and inequity. She believes literacy is a crucial component in empowering adults in their confidence and ability, enabling them to encourage their children’s literacy development. Having had the opportunity to facilitate Motheread/Fatheread classes with incarcerated women, she explains, “This program has opened my eyes and passions in new and profound ways, and I will always be grateful to Helping Education for recognizing the power and importance of this work.”

In her work with Helping Education, she is grateful for the opportunity to grow with the organization. She said, “It has been a joy to work collaboratively with so many amazing colleagues along the way as we have grown and adapted to new challenges.”

We’re so glad to have Melissa on the team and look forward to our ongoing work together!