Educator Spotlight: Melissa Cottrell, Career Academies Program Specialist

“I am just happy to be around my students”, says Career Academies Program Specialist Melissa Cottrell. A graduate of P.D. Jackson-Olin High School, Ms. Cottrell received a BA in Finance from  Alabama A&M University and an MA in Education from Alabama State.

image1Ms. Cottrell began her professional career working in the finance department of a corporation and soon found out that was not the right field for her. After leaving the finance industry, Ms. Cottrell began to teach at Hayes Middle School and then Woodlawn High School. “I knew then that education is where I was supposed to be,” she says of the transition.

In her career with Birmingham City School, Ms. Cottrell has served in many capacities: as teacher, as assistant principal, and most recently, as Program Specialist for the Career Academies, where she has lent enormous support to Ed . No matter what the job title, though, Ms. Cottrell insists that the “interaction with students and watching them reach milestones in education is [her] favorite part of the job”.

image3Last year, Ms. Cottrell introduced students in the Parker Academy of Urban Educators to the world of public school district-level administration, putting together a truly one-of-a-kind tour of Birmingham City’s Central Office and introducing students to a number of employees that work behind the scenes to deliver education to our students – including then interim Superintendent Dr. Spencer Horn.  Parker Academy Coordinator Cornelia Davis noted that the students so enjoyed the behind-the-scenes tour that they spent the short bus ride back to the school making up a song that articulates the difference between classified and certified employees.

Ms. Cottrell agrees that sometimes the work isn’t easy, but it is always worth it. “It’s exciting to see kids grow and transition from one place to another,” says Ms. Cottrell. “Ed makes collaboration with Birmingham City Schools fun and the students are getting truly original experiences in the field.”

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