By Kim Johnson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – She is a teacher with a big responsibility. That’s because for every student she teaches another life is impacted.

Melanie Faulhaber’s job is to teach teens at Longfellow Alternative High School in Minneapolis how to be parents. Her lessons are making a difference in the lives of young moms and their babies. That’s what makes Faulhaber this week’s Excellent Educator.

Her students enter her classroom with an armful of challenges; among them being parents while still a child themselves.

“Right now, we’re teaching about attachment and brain development. [We] answer questions as they come up, as the moms have them,” Faulhaber said.

Faulhaber has a degree in education, but she’s found the best way to teach parenting is to draw from her own experience as a wife and mom of two.

“They’re always asking me, ‘What did you do? What do your kids do?'” she said. “I don’t have the experience of being a young mom but I think parenting is hard no matter who you are.”

But it’s true these young parents face a unique set of obstacles.

“They’re being parented while they are parenting, so sometimes they have ideas on how they want to do things while other people have different ideas,” she said. “Balancing school and work and financial needs for their kids. They all want to do the best they can for their kids. These guys have a lot going on,” she said.

But the advice students receive from Faulhaber is making their lives a little easier.

“Just her personal stories and personal experiences that she shares with us I take from that,” Ricarrah Brown, a student, said. “We sing a lot, I sing to him a lot. I sing the songs that we learn in class and she gives us books and I read the books to him.”

As parents, they are their children’s first teacher and Faulhaber’s goal is to make them excellent ones too.

“It’s just who I am. I want to empower all these moms to be awesome so they can do the best they can do with their kids,” she said.


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