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SPU Graduates: Ready to Engage

Melyssa Norris ’09, music education and vocal performance

Melissa NorrisMelyssa Norris is ready to be a music teacher in the middle of a remote African village, in an inner-city American high school, or anywhere in between. That’s the great thing about music, she says. “It travels anywhere and says so much without having to say a word.”

As a student teacher both in a local high school and elementary school, she’s seen music unlock wounded hearts and ignite confidence. Music, she says, “provides kids with a safe space where they can leave their burdens at the door.”

Her passion for music — Norris sings and plays numerous instruments, including piano, organ, violin, viola, and tenor saxophone — earns the trust of students and provides her with a window on their lives. “I get to be a beacon to the kids, to let them know someone genuinely cares about them, and, in subtle ways, to show them the love of Jesus.”

Never afraid of hard work, Norris put in long hours as a nanny in the early morning and again in the afternoon to help pay for her SPU education. It was just a taste of the work and sacrifice she says may yet be required wherever music takes her. But she has experienced too much of God's faithfulness to be concerned.

“It is so humbling to be part of a bigger picture, to be Christ’s hands and feet and heart on earth,” she says. “I want to teach some place where the kids don't always have a lot of people to invest in them.” And wherever that place is, Norris is ready to make music.

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