Outstanding Math Teacher Helps Students Solve Problems

McKay School of Education alumna Melody Apezteguia, who teaches in the Alpine School District, has been selected as Teacher of the Year for the state of Utah. This award recognizes her community involvement and her philosophy of teaching, based on an interview with the committee.

Melody graduated in 1993 from BYU with a degree in math education and a minor in Latin teaching. However, as an undergraduate she didn’t find this choice easy. “I was originally a business major,” Melody said. “I was in accounting and economics, but it wasn’t for me–the math wasn’t fun. I enjoyed doing math, but that type of math wasn’t for me. I wanted to help others not shriek or shiver in their boots when they heard the word math.”

While trying to decide what was for her, which math was fun, she considered her options. She enjoyed tutoring at a local high school helping students with math, and she was affected by the example of her aunt who was a schoolteacher. When Melody decided to become a teacher, she never looked back.

Apezteguia’s ability to understand math helps her in understanding her students. She helps her students learn to solve problems–in math but also in life. “I hope to motivate my students and help them commit to what they are doing, whether it be a homework problem or something going on in their life. I hope that they can be determined to improve,” she said.

Her favorite aspect of being a teacher is helping her students reach their potential by building relationships and believing in them. She wants her students to know that they can trust her and that she is there to help them in any way she can.

One of the many reasons Melody was chosen as Teacher of the Year was her love and dedication for her students. “I wish I had more time so I could interact more with my students,” she said. “I wish I could walk around my classroom and talk with each student about how the quiz went for him or her and how they are doing on the homework. I just don’t have enough time.”

After six years of teaching in Idaho Falls, Melody moved to Houston, where she taught for eight years. She then returned to Utah and taught at Olympus High School in Magna. For two years she commuted from Utah Valley to her Magna school, but decided to shorten her commute by transferring to American Fork High School.

For the past seven years, Melody has been teaching at American Fork High School. Currently her teaching assignment is professional learning community coordinator, so she teaches and works with teachers to help them improve their teaching methods.

“I am who I am now because of all of the different schools [where] I taught,” Melody said. “My level of understanding is also where it is because of my experiences. It has been highly beneficial to me teaching at all of those different schools.”

When in Houston, Melody attended Prairie View A&M, earning a master’s degree in education. Now she’s back at BYU earning another master’s degree, from the Educational Leadership & Foundations program.

“Personally I didn’t realize the great education that I was getting when I was here,” Melody said, reflecting on her undergraduate years at BYU. “The return on investment is great. The depth and breadth of what the professors teach is amazing. Now that I’m back, I really am grateful that the professors include the principles of the Gospel in their classroom discussions.”