From an early age, Melissa Mitchell Byrd had a passion for education, deciding she wanted to be a teacher when she was in elementary school while growing up in Altamonte Springs.
Her passion led her to the University of Central Florida, where she received her degree in elementary education in 1997 and started her career at Forest City Elementary School, the School she attended as a child.
There, Melissa assumed leadership positions, in addition to teaching first grade. She spent two years as a Title I reading resource teacher working with struggling readers in all grades. She implemented and supervised a groundbreaking program at the school where she trained older students in specific reading strategies to work with, and remediate, below level readers in younger grades. She was also the staff trainer for the Reading Recovery and Four Blocks literacy program.
From there, Melissa moved to Pace Brantley Hall School in Longwood, where she specialized in working with children with learning differences in first through fourth grade. While at Pace Brantley, she worked extensively on brain-based research training and completed a clinical supervision course through UCF, as well as graduate level educational leadership courses.
In 2003, after the birth of her first daughter, Melissa left the classroom to raise her children, Abigail, 14, and Madeline, 10. Throughout their schooling, Melissa has been actively involved in her daughters’ education. She currently serves as the PTSA vice president and chair of the School Advisory Council at Piedmont Lakes Middle School. At Clay Springs Elementary School, she volunteers at multiple PTA events and was a regular classroom volunteer.
She currently serves as a substitute teacher for Orange County Public Schools, working in elementary, middle and high schools in Northwest Orange County.
Melissa moved from Altamonte Springs to the Apopka area in 1998 after marrying Alan Byrd, owner of Alan Byrd & Associates, a public relations and marketing firm. She and her family attend Wekiva Presbyterian Church. The Byrd family has contributed to many local non-profits, including Community Based Care of Central Florida, Coastal Conservation Association, Valencia Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Family of Friends, Shepherd's Hope and Children’s Tumor Foundation.
Melissa is also an avid animal lover. She has adopted several dogs and currently owns two dogs. She also owns three cats, all rescued as kittens - one from a car engine that she now calls Motor. The family also has a pet snake, but she is insistent that is her husband’s pet, not her’s.
Melissa is running for Orange County School Board to fight for the students, parents and teachers of Northwest Orange County. If elected, she’ll focus on improvement in four areas: educational opportunities, classroom environment, teacher advocacy and community schools.
Melissa wants to earn your trust and your vote in August.