Dr. Melissa Collucci’s desire to teach in higher education came from her own experience as an early education teacher. Throughout her ten years of experience teaching K-6, she developed an appreciation for the importance of language and literacy skills. This became the subject of her own scholarly research, which focused on “preparing teachers to teach foundational literacy skills in engaging environments that support all children, especially those whose first languages may not be English.”
As a professor, she makes sure that her students understand the importance of these skills, stating: “Language and literacy are inextricably linked and I work to help new teachers understand how important it is to value all language usage in the classroom. Language is our primary tool for learning. Students need instruction and support systems that allow them to use their home languages as they work to learn new content. I hope that my work in the classroom and through research helps new teachers to create welcoming and academically supportive environments for all learners.”
From her many years of experience, Dr. Collucci also realized how essential it is for educators to “create safe spaces for all children to learn the skills they each need to succeed.” Not only does she instill these values in her students, but she also practices them in her own classroom and has guided her students to become compassionate educators. According to STAC alum Erin Albin, “Dr. Collucci’s expertise, warmth, and guidance helped to push me to achieve in ways that I didn’t know were possible. Dr. Collucci provided me with one-on-one support and guidance and sought opportunities for me to develop my professional academic writing under her supervision. She works hard to ensure every student feels supported and makes it her mission to ensure her students have the tools and knowledge to excel as teachers and education professionals.” Erin, who recently returned to STAC for her post-masters in literacy, now works as a teacher and has made some great changes to her school’s literacy curriculum. “It is joyful for me to see our new teachers head off and create classrooms that welcome all learners and provide research-based structures to support individual learning,” Dr. Collucci says.
In order to build a collaborative and trusting nature in her classroom, Dr. Collucci has her students keep journals. By journaling with her students, she gets to know them better and sees how stronger peer connections are built within the classroom.
Since joining the STAC facility in 2017, Dr. Collucci has taught 12 courses in the School of Education, as well as serving as an advisor for the Kappa Delta Pi honor society, where she welcomes students into the honors program and helps to organize community service events. Before coming to STAC, she worked as a Professor of Literacy at a multitude of universities of varying levels and sizes. STAC stands out to her, however, because of its focus on the individual student: “All faculty members across disciplines care immensely about their students academically and socially.” Through this, she has been able to watch her students grow into themselves throughout their academic journey at STAC, which allows her to learn about the unique stories that every student has to offer.
In her five years at STAC, Dr. Collucci has had valuable experiences, such as working with other faculty members to develop the First Year Seminar curriculum, receiving grants to create tutoring programs at STAC that support local children, and, most recently, working as a true team to keep education exciting and engaging throughout the pandemic.
Dr. Collucci hopes that her involvement on campus will help students to navigate the information-intensive news environment that we live in so that they can be informed and active citizens.
Growing up in Nutley, New Jersey, Dr. Collucci spent much of her childhood playing softball and tennis with her dad and attending rock shows at the Jersey shore with her sister, who worked as a music reviewer for the Asbury Park Press. Her love for reading began at an early age, with her favorite childhood book being Morris the Moose Goes to School. She earned the childhood nickname of “Missy-the-Mouth” because of her tendency to unintentionally ruin surprise parties. Dr. Collucci and her husband were high-school sweethearts, and she and he were Salutatorian and Valedictorian, respectively.
Now, Dr. Collucci resides with her family in Verona, NJ, where she is involved with local organizations such as Get the Vote Out. Her passion for literacy extends beyond the classroom, as she frequently volunteers for local book collections and tutoring services. She also loves to travel, and some of her favorite travel destinations are New York, D.C., and Los Angeles. She and her children have watched every Marvel movie together since Iron Man 2008, and her favorite characters from the franchise are Thor and Groot.