HOUSTON - Many families are finding themselves under immense pressure in the pandemic but in this Positively Houston, one Houston educator is being recognized for trying to help relieve that stress.
Even the City of Houston is praising elementary school teacher and Cheerleading Coach Melissa Brown for the assistance she's offering parents in the pandemic but Brown's service goes much deeper than that.
When you watch Brown's Divine Cheer Explosion cheer squad in action you'll see incredibly talented girls. What you don't see is all the time, work, and devotion their cheer coach Melissa Brown is putting into them to get them there.
"I love my kids. They're very special to me,” smiles Brown and the feeling is mutual. "I think of Melissa as a second mom to me,” adds 11-year-old Tiana Davis.
The girls, as young as four, who join the Divine Cheer Explosion gym in Alief get much more than techniques and tips on cheerleading.
"She helps her when it comes to homework,” explains Tiana's Mom Tamika Davis "and I'm really grateful to have her in my life,” smiles Tiana.
"That always makes my heart smile because I know I'm doing more than just teaching them about the love of the sport of cheer,” adds Coach Melissa who started the Divine Cheer Explosion gym more than a decade ago.
"Tiana used to be shy and timid and scared of everything. When she's turning these backflips and doing all this stuff with no hands I'm cringing but at the same time, I'm like yes that's my baby,” Davis smiles. In fact, Tiana's mom says seeing her daughter flourish under Coach Melissa's direction isn't only exciting but emotional.
"That's my miracle baby”.
Davis had been a bit overprotective because Tiana was born weighing just 3 pounds after a difficult pregnancy. She believes Coach Melissa was Heaven sent. "I thank God for her every day. She's been, I'm sorry. (crying) She's been a real angel to me and my child". A sentiment shared by many Houston families.
That's why the Mayor presented a City Proclamation to Coach Melissa. "That was a total surprise and I'm still kind of in awe,” says Brown.
After 12 years of offering Houston girls an extended family, now Coach Melissa is helping her Cheer Babies, as they're called, and their parents through the stress of the pandemic. "She puts us before herself all the time. There are times we may not be able to pay,” says Davis.
Coach Melissa says it's important for her to give her girls unforgettable experiences they can carry with them for the rest of their lives such as traveling for competitions. "We've been to San Antonio, Galveston, Disney World, Louisiana, Las Vegas. I had never been to those places before,” says Tiana.
Coach Melissa has also been an HISD elementary school teacher for 19 years, touching and shaping the lives of countless kiddos here in Houston.
“I still stay in touch with a lot of my kids. They're doing so well. It makes me feel like I've done what I set out to do,” smiles Brown.