Michelle Munson: a leader in and out of Liberty

Hannah Kim, Spotlight Editor

As students, it’s easy for us to assume that the job of a teacher is simple. The fact is, however, being a teacher is a lot more complex than one might imagine. The job requires patience, leadership, and knowledge—skills that many people, quite frankly, do not possess. Being a teacher is hard, and being a good one is even harder.

“Funny thing. I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher—it just kind of happened. I changed my major seven times in college, and I had to make a decision. So I chose teaching,” Michelle Munson said. 

Munson has been working at Liberty since 2001. She first taught PE until she became the full-time ASB leadership teacher and Activity Coordinator in 2010. Ever since then, Munson has been a hallmark of school spirit and leadership at Liberty. 

“It’s rewarding to watch kids having fun at school. I get the need for the academic grind, but I also think school needs to have those moments of fun, too,” Munson said. 

I turn 50 this fall, and who gets a PhD at this age, right? But, then I decided, why shouldn’t I get a PhD? Why not become Dr. Munson?”

These “moments of fun” are a huge part of Liberty’s school spirit. However, these events—assemblies, school dances, fundraisers—don’t just happen without the hard work of Munson and ASB. Bringing these school spirited events proves to be even more challenging during a pandemic. 

“It is very hard to bring the fun when people are sitting at home behind a computer.  It has been challenging, but I also think my students have learned more about who they are as leaders, which has been awesome to observe,” Munson said. 

The students of ASB aren’t the only awesome thing Munson has been able to observe, though. Recently, Munson has gone back to school at Saint Martins University to get a PhD in Leadership Studies with an emphasis on social justice. 

“From the day I graduated from WSU in 1994, I dreamed of getting a PhD.  But as the years passed and I got older, it seemed silly to go back to school when my life was fine without one,” Munson said. “I turn 50 this fall, and who gets a PhD at this age, right?  But, then I decided, why shouldn’t I get a PhD? Why not become Dr. Munson?”

Still, the road to becoming Dr. Munson has not been without its struggles. 

“Getting a PhD is no joke.  Most days, between work at LHS and the PhD program, I am online between twelve and fifteen hours a day. But I try not to complain about it, and I’m really lucky to have a strong support system with friends and family,” Munson said. 

While Munson is still working on her PhD, she looks forward to the future. She hopes that with her PhD program, she will be able to create a leadership curriculum with the foundation that classroom cultures— built by students and staff together—will enhance student behaviors and learning.

“The program has pushed me to learn and reflect on my own leadership,” Munson said. “It’s been an amazing opportunity.”