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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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Hodges One of Nonnewaug’s Strongest

Melissa Hodges takes a selfie with her two children. Being a teacher, a single mother, and an extracurricular leader keeps Hodges busy. (Melissa Hodges)

WOODBURY — Every school in the country has a building filled with staff members who have remarkable stories to tell, ranging from custodians to teachers of all different subject areas to principals and anyone in between. Ask any faculty member if being a member of the school staff is a simple task, the answer will always be no.

No one would give a straighter answer than Nonnewaug’s Melissa Hodges, a science teacher, National Honor Society advisor, and leader of the Nonnewaug High School blood drives, among the many hats she wears on campus.

She works so hard for her students,” says Kathleen Yocis, Nonnewaug science teacher and one of Hodges’ closest friends. “She always plans all her lessons ahead of time and considers her students’ needs. She is always willing to help. She is one of the best teachers in the building.”

Students and faculty alike are quick to notice the methodical planning and preparation Hodges brings to her classroom daily. This level of preparation isn’t just helpful for her students, but it helps make sense of her busy life. 

Melissa Hodges poses with her family. She says that the thing she appreciates most is time spent with her family. (Melissa Hodges)

“I make a mental list of what needs to be done,” Hodges said. “I make calendars for all my classes, which I also use for myself, as well as a calendar in my phone with all my upcoming stuff for my kids and my dog.” 

Hodges has earned a reputation on campus for her work ethic, but students have come to appreciate something that’s especially unique about the feedback she gives: personalized notes on every assignment, effectively creating what Hodges calls “love notes.”

“Classwork is meant to be a learning experience, so notes help the students learn how they’re actually messing up and better their work as a result,” Hodges said. “I have self-made answer keys at my desk every day so they have immediate feedback on if they’re doing their work right or not.”

On top of her teaching responsibilities, Hodges also hosts three of Nonnewaug’s important yearly events: American Red Cross blood drives. 

“[Blood donors can] save up to three people’s lives,” said Hodges. “It’s a good cause.”

Hodges comes up with creative ways to entice students to give blood. 

“[Students] get free snacks after the donation, and during our last drive we handed out ugly Will Ferrell Elf socks to people who donated,” Hodges said. 

In addition to the three blood drives and being a science teacher, Hodges also is the leader of the National Honor Society, an advisory position that not only acknowledges student academic success but also serves in a variety of community service roles. For students looking to earn a spot within this exclusive club, Hodges’ criteria can be rigorous. 

“[We look for] well-rounded students with a weighted average of 85 or above with around 60 hours of community service,” Hodges said. “These kids help with stuff around the school, like events and the blood drives, and are a great rep for our school.”

Hodges, on top of all of this, has been fighting her own fight. In June 2023, she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. News of her diagnosis was crushing for NHS campus as students have taken a vested interest in her battle. 

“I care about Hodges quite a bit; she’s one of my favorite teachers,” says Veronika Depaula, a senior and former student of Hodges. “I would go in and ask her how the treatments were going, and she was never one to hold her head down. She was strong throughout the whole process. I was happy when she finally announced that she was better.”

Beyond receiving consistent treatments, Hodges continues to be a force on NHS’ campus, earning a reputation as one of Nonnewaug’s most orderly, energetic, and most appreciated teachers. 

“I don’t know how I do it,” says Hodges when asked about balancing everything in her very busy life. “At the end of the day, life goes on, and I can’t stop for a second.”

Hodges takes everything life throws at her, no matter how hard it is, and throws it back even harder. 

“Ms. Hodges is pretty willing to drop everything. She cares about her students, and if we need help, she will do everything she can to help us,” says Depaula. “From a student’s perspective, it shows that she cares. There are times where she does make us figure it out ourselves or gives us advice in order to get us where we need to be.”

These same qualities that make Hodges such a memorable faculty member are also seen in those who work with her on a daily basis. 

“We need teachers like Ms. Hodges because she inspires her students to work harder and make a difference,” Yocis says. “She wants the best for each and every one of them, and [she] is so excited to celebrate their successes. She fits in perfectly with the Nonnewaug staff because we all love our jobs and want only the best for the students and community.”

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About the Contributor
Ethan Gelinas '24
Ethan Gelinas '24, Reporter
Ethan Gelinas is a senior and a first-year writer for the Nonnewaug Chief Advocate. He took journalism because of his love for writing in any way shape and form. He enjoys playing video games and is currently trying to become an internet influencer through Twitch and YouTube. His other interests are veterinarian practices and being a writer.
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    Miss HodgesJan 8, 2024 at 10:35 am

    I can’t thank this school enough for all of your support. I don’t know if I would have been able to make it through the last 7 months without all of you <3