Teacher Feature: Get to Know Two of the Newest Members of the Special Education Department


Photo: courtesy Sara Gardner (left) and Melyssa Sweet (right)

Bridget Comerford-Joyce

Just before our holiday break, I met with two new BHS teachers: Melyssa Sweet, a school psychologist, and Sara Gardner, a speech-language pathologist. Get to know these two new additions to our Seahorse community with some fun and quirky questions.

What got you interested in working in the special ed department?

Melyssa Sweet: I’ve always worked with kids like when I was much younger I was always like a babysitter or I worked as a camp counselor. And then when I was an undergrad I studied Psychology and education and I really loved both and I thought about going to school to be a teacher, So when I was studying those things undergrad, and I like them so much, I wanted to find a way to do them both. Then I found this career as a school psychologist. I didn’t even know what it was at the time but I started reading about it, where you get to work—in a school but you are not a full teacher—you get to work with teachers and you get to work with students. And so that was kind of like my dream job. It was just everything that I wanted to do combined together while also still holding onto psychology 

Sarah Gardner: I worked with kids starting when I was 13. So I was a kid myself in musical theater and always knew I wanted to work with students and I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to do that and so I found speech pathology online and I decided to pursue it. And I absolutely loved working with students on speech skills and language development and communication and I just love working as a part of the special education team. It feels really good to not only help the students learn but also learn from those students and I find it to be really rewarding. 

What surprised you most about teaching at BHS during Covid-19?

Melyssa Sweet: I think the biggest surprise, and the funniest thing to tell my friends and family about, is the fact that by the end of this year I will have worked out of not only one department store but two: an L.L. Bean and a Macy’s.

Sarah Gardner: How flexible all of the students and the teachers have been because even though it’s my first year here I feel like everybody has still been so welcoming, even with not being in person.

Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?

Melyssa Sweet: The teacher’s name was Ms. Chittenden and she was my math teacher for two years in a row. I think she taught algebra and trig, and I didn’t like math but I really liked her. It was because she made the class really fun and enjoyable and we got to have fun while also learning. She just made math interesting and I don’t remember any of the math that she taught me but I do remember how she made me feel and you know how fun it was to be in her class every day. 

Sarah Gardner: I think my favorite teacher was my drama teacher/chorus teacher just because I really like theater, and so towards the end of my time at high school I was able to start not only being in the shows but I was helping with auditions and things like that, so I got really close with my drama teacher. 

What are you currently reading or watching?

Melyssa Sweet: I’m watching a documentary about Scientology, which is kind of interesting … And I’m also watching Ozark, which is kind of like a, I don’t really know, drama? It’s all about the Ozarks, like the lake and drug cartel. I don’t know, it’s kind of crazy but fascinating. 

Sarah Gardner: I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing and I really liked that story. That was really good. I haven’t started a new book yet. What am I watching? A lot of reality TV. I’m not proud of that but it’s entertaining. 

What is your favorite book of all time or currently?

Melyssa Sweet: I just finished reading Untamed by Glenna Milton Doyle, and I really like her as a person and she’s a fascinating writer. She’s witty. She’s honest and that’s a book I just read that I really liked. 

Sarah Gardner: The Giver. I loved reading The Giver in middle school.

Favorite weird food combo?

Sarah Gardner: Anything with mashed Potatoes. Like I will eat mashed potatoes with anything that’s also savory. I won’t eat mashed potatoes with anything that’s sweet…or french fries and mayo.  

Melyssa Sweet: I love mustard. I’ll put it on anything. 

What’s a hobby you have picked up since quarantine? 

Melyssa Sweet: A hobby I have picked up, or at least gotten better at, is cooking. My partner and I do cook-offs and so we pick a theme and then we both pick that dish and we see whose tastes better.

Sarah Gardner: During quarantine, I got a puppy and so I would say teaching my dogs new tricks would be a hobby that I picked up. 

If you got stranded on an island what three things would you want you to have with you?

Melyssa Sweet: I would bring a beach chair, my dog (Ralphie), and a good book.

Sarah Gardner: I would want paper and pen so I can write down all of my experiences and would definitely want some sort of food probably, some fruit or something and,  a camera to take pictures of everything that’s happening as well

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Melyssa Sweet: If I could go anywhere in the world it would be back to Dingle Bay in Ireland.

Sarah Gardner: Back to Greece. I studied abroad as an undergrad and one of the weekends I took was to Greece and I loved it and, ever since then, I’ve been wanting to go back. It’s the clearest water I’ve ever seen in my life.

Small town or big city 

Melyssa Sweet: Small town 

Sarah Gardner: Big city

Summer or winter?

Melyssa Sweet: Summer

Sarah Gardner: Winter

Morning or evening?

Melyssa Sweet: Morning 

Sarah Gardner: Evening 

Lakes or oceans?

Melyssa Sweet: Lakes 

Sarah Gardner: Oceans 

1920 or 2120 and why?

Melyssa Sweet: 1920… I’d like to meet my ancestors. 

Sarah Gardner: 2120, I just think that the 1920s already happened, and while I would have loved to experience the 1920s, I have no clue what 2120 looks like so the element of surprise is exciting.