By the time Melanie Clason turned 18, the worst day of her life and the best day of her life had both happened at the end of a country driveway. As Mustang Creek Elementary’s Teacher of the Year, Clason’s story is one of sheer determination and love.
On the first day of school of her ninth grade year, Melanie Clason stood by the mailbox at the end of the driveway waiting for the bus. She was the fifth child of 12, the second oldest girl. Her parents were old-fashioned and strict, bringing up their children in a life dominated with love and work ethic, with no television, no bank accounts, and no time for anything outside of their busy farm life. Clason didn’t mind; she had a huge family with 35 first cousins, she was loved and she had school. With 11 siblings, she and her brothers sisters played school to pass the time when they weren’t doing chores.
As Clason waited, her father joined her at the end of the drive. Her mother needed her help, he said, and she was good at English and had enough math. She didn’t need any more schooling. She would stay home and help with the children, the chores and the farm.