Alumni Spotlight: Melanie Carlisle

Melanie Carlisle’s first encounter with California Lutheran University was in 2007 when she investigated earning her multiple subject credential. Cal Lutheran had a partnership with the school where she was teaching to help working teachers advance their education. The professor who was running the program was Dr. Maura Martindale, Associate Professor of Special Education. During one of her lectures Professor Martindale started using ASL (American Sign Language) and Ms. Carlisle signed back. After class Professor Martindale called Ms. Carlisle up and asked her if she would be interested in joining the new cohort at Cal Lutheran in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) program.
Ms. Carlisle then enrolled in both credential programs, regular multiple subject and special education, as well as the Masters of Education for the DHH program in 2010. Professor Martindale was her mentor from the moment they signed to each other that first day. Professor Martindale created real-life opportunities for the cohort and had hands on experience with children in the language lab as well as labs at the House Ear Institute.
After graduation, Ms. Carlisle began an international job search and secured a position at a private bilingual German-English school in Berlin, Germany. Despite the fact that she had no German language experience or skills, the administration offered her the position based on years of teaching experience and unique studies in language acquisition. She was also placed in charge of student teachers from Stenden University. Ms. Carlisle trains, evaluates and mentors these students as well as presents a lecture series at the university. She designed her mentoring style based on her role model, Professor Martindale.
Ms. Carlisle has been at the school for four years and was recently promoted to lead teacher of the 5th and 6th grades. She was granted a permanent German teaching license in her first year, rarely given to new teachers. In her first year, she also implemented an ASL club at the school which has been wildly popular. The education she received at Cal Lutheran has allowed her to identify hearing and speech issues and recommend hearing testing and speech therapy for students that may have otherwise gone unnoticed by the faculty. The experience also gave her insight and techniques in her personal pursuit of learning the German language.
“The DHH program and credential programs widened my gaze and empowered me to take risks and enter into a new phase of my career. This journey has been surprising, unexpected and exhilarating. The experience and knowledge I gained at Cal Lutheran gave me the skills and confidence to reach beyond my own goals in education and to branch out in ways I didn’t think possible.”