Melissa currently serves as the founding director of Esmeralda Santiago Charter School in Chicago. During this founding year, she has focused on increasing student achievement and closing the achievement gap, working with parents to best support their children’s academic careers, creating a positive school culture and facilitating the growth and development of her teachers. Melissa is passionate about recruiting and retaining the highest quality teachers for her students. She has worked on building a comprehensive framework with the UNO Charter School Network that rewards teacher performance through a combination of compensation and career professional development opportunities. Melissa began her teaching career in Chicago and has taught a variety of grade levels. While teaching a diverse student population, she served on many committees and led initiatives such as creating a systematic discipline plan for a school of 1,600 students, using data-driven instruction to increase student achievement and effectively utilizing technology to maximize student learning. When she was a MetLife Fellow, she conducted action research on the use of student data notebooks and the positive effects of goal-setting and self-reflective practices on academic achievement. Melissa earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in education from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.