Melissa Tebbenkamp Honored as Outstanding Recent Alumnus
University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose, left, presents the Winter 2014 Outstanding Recent Alumni Award to Melissa Tebbenkamp during commencement ceremonies.
In an age and place where technology plays a monumental role, Melissa Tebbenkamp may appear to have extraordinary powers to those who continually rely on her.
"You probably cannot tell from looking at me, but I am a superhero," said the Winter 2014 University of Central Missouri Outstanding Recent Alumni Award recipient. "You cannot see my cape, and I'm not wearing a mask, but I have super powers and so do you.
"My super power is that I can work with technicians to restore my district's fiber network that was just shredded by a neighborhood lawnmower while also facilitating technology training for 100 of our district's new teachers," she added. "I am often called upon to swoop to the rescue and make education miracles happen."
Tebbenkamp has become accustomed to saving the day as director of instructional technology at Raytown Quality Schools, where she has served since 2006. Having graduated from UCM with a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 2001 and a master's degree in educational technology in 2003, she currently supervises two assistant directors and 27 technicians, while serving 22 facilities, 1,400 staff and 8,800 students.
Her decision to attend UCM came about through tragic circumstances.
"My senior year of high school I had a decision to make, apply to Harvard and become a lawyer or apply to the best education college and become a teacher. A tragic car accident resulting in my sister's death forced me to consider my priorities. I decided that I wanted to be close to home and in a career that would allow me to continue to focus on what means most, family. Even though I enjoyed debate and policy, education was where I belonged. I chose UCM."
While working at Raytown,Tebbenkamp says she has learned a lot about project management and leadership. Through her work, she also is building a national reputation as a leader in her field. She became one of the first 46 individuals in the nation and one of only three in Missouri to become a certified education technology leader by the Consortium for School Networking. With this elite designation, she is regarded among her peers as someone who "demonstrates the knowledge and skills needed to define the vision for and successfully build 21st century learning environments."
Under Tebbenkamp's leadership, Raytown Quality Schools is frequently cited as a reference model district for many technologies, practices and procedures. She has become a key player and contributor to state and national organizations and publications focused on school technology. Most recently, she was elected to the CoSN national board of directors, having already benefitted from experience as a founding member and past chair of CoSN's state chapter, the Missouri Education Technology Leaders Board. She also served as a moderator and creator of Missouri's Educational Technology Professional Learning Community.
Tebbenkamp praises her outstanding colleagues, noting, "I'm proud of my staff and how much they have grown. They are incredibly highly skilled, and they just wow me every day with the way they work together and solve problems."
Once considering a law career, Tebbenkamp says she is grateful for the direction her career has taken. In the ever-changing world of technology, this includes preparing students for careers that do not exist today.
"If you have found your passion, being a superhero is easy for you," she said. "I found my passion in educational technology and have a sense of satisfaction when I see the impact of my work in the classroom."