By Joy S. Jones
“At Valencia we have wonderful students, faculty and staff, and I feel lucky to have the chance to work with all of them.” -Melissa Pedone, Dean of Mathematics and Science, Osceola Campus
If you scramble the letters in the degrees Melissa Pedone has earned over the course of her career in education — A.A., B.S. M.Ed., Ed.D — you get a nice mix for a game of Words with Friends (or Scrabble if you’re of a certain age) — beaded, abased, samba — the list goes on.
The dean of mathematics and science at Osceola knows the value of a community college education, having first earned an Associate in Arts at Polk Community College before going on to earn three additional degrees — a Bachelor of Science and Master’s in education in mathematics and a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), all from the University of Central Florida.
Melissa has served at the College for more than two decades.
Since 2008, she’s provided academic leadership for 40 full-time and approximately 100 part-time faculty and staff who serve more than 7,500 students at Valencia’s Osceola Campus. She is also responsible for the creation of the master schedule and class assignments, departmental learning-centered initiatives and division action plans. In addition, she manages 10 distinct budgets, serves on collegewide committees and councils, supports Valencia’s strategic plan and participates in College and community events.
“To stay connected to the classroom and fully understand student and faculty issues, I have also continued to teach at least one course throughout the time I have been an administrator,” she said.
Before assuming the role of an administrator, Melissa served as a tenured faculty member in the mathematics department at Osceola from 1995 – 2008, and from 1999 – 2004. While reassigned from her faculty position, she served as activity director for a Title V grant.
“I am proud of the fact that I have been engaged in projects over the years that I have seen grow to be institutionalized. I was on the team that created the summer faculty development program called Destination, and I coordinated it for the first six years,” she said. Destination has now been running for 17 years.
“I was also a member of the team that developed the framework for the Teaching/Learning Academy and am excited about being part of the planning for the emerging Poinciana Campus,” she shared. “Having started at the Osceola Campus when it was small and housed in portables, it is really exciting to think of the process starting again in Poinciana.”
Kathleen Plinske, president, Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses, says that Melissa is a courageous and creative leader who not only enjoys identifying solutions to complex issues and challenges, but who also has an amazing talent for helping students overcome their fears.
“She maintains the highest standards of excellence for our students, while at the same time is 100 percent committed to helping them achieve success,” said Kathleen. “It is not uncommon for students who are afraid of taking a required math or science class to visit Dr. Pedone. She helps them believe that they can be successful in algebra, even if they insist that they never have been and never will be ‘math people.’ She is willing to think outside of the proverbial box to overcome obstacles and is dedicated to helping our students achieve their goals.”
Ensuring that the instructors are a right fit for campus needs from the onset is important to Melissa.
“It is always a pleasure working with Melissa from an employment perspective,” said Maryam Khan, coordinator, employment and onboarding who, prior to moving to East Campus previously served both Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses. “She truly cares about students and is always dedicated to finding the best talent out there.”
Melissa reckons that for many in our community, particularly in Osceola County, Valencia is the pathway to success for those wishing to improve their lives through education.
“When I look around and see how hard our students and staff are working, it even makes me want to try to do more. I am inspired by the hard work of others,” Melissa said.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.