LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven University alumnus Reed Mellinger ’85 retired as Principal of Jersey Shore Area High School in 2018 and is now LHU’s Tutoring Services Coordinator.
Mellinger’s ties to The Haven and the field of education began long before he became an LHU student in the fall of 1982, and continued long before his return as an LHU employee in fall 2021. He was raised just five minutes from campus, in the same house where he now lives with his wife of 25 years, 2003 LHU graduate, Jeni (Miller) Mellinger.
He comes from a long line of LHU trained teachers. Her grandmother, Helen Mellinger, graduated from Central State Normal School in 1916, and although she was not an alumnus, her mother – Beatrice Barry – also spent a year as a student at Lock Haven. State Teachers College before earning a teaching degree from another university.
Mellinger’s sister, Jenny (Mellinger) Kaluzny – a teacher at Mill Hall Elementary School – also followed in the family’s footsteps, graduating from LHU in 1999.
After graduating from high school with a major in physics and math, Mellinger began his career teaching computer science and math classes at a New Hampshire high school. He then taught middle school science in Illesheim, Germany, before returning to the United States in 1992 to complete his principal’s certification.
In 1993, at the age of 30, he became vice principal of Jersey Shore Area Senior High School. Over the next 25 years, he held the positions of vice principal and principal of high schools and colleges, including overseeing the transition from Jersey Shore Area Junior High School to Jersey Shore Area Middle School.
From 2001 to 2012, he was a board member of the LHU Alumni Association. He served one term as chairman of the board and was the first alumni association president to hold a board meeting in the Lytle Boardroom at the Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center.
As an LHU student, he pledged Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and was part of the largest fraternity pledge class ever held at LHU. He was also a member of the Physics Club and the Ski Club at LHU, including two years as Vice President of the Ski Club and two more as President.
A Level III ski instructor certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America, Mellinger said his favorite memories from LHU relate to his time at the Ski Club, including a trip with 15 students and club counselor Ralph Lehman to Smuggler’s Notch. in northern Vermont during his senior year.
Since returning to LHU to lead the Tutoring Center, he has made it his goal to increase the number of tutors available to students. Through collaboration with his peers at Bloomsburg and Mansfield Universities, he implemented an Supplemental Teaching Tutoring (SI) model at LHU, which pays tutors to attend the class they teach and to meet teachers on a regular basis to discuss key course concepts in preparation for hosting two to three tutoring sessions per week.
However, perhaps the highlight of his first year back on campus came during LHU’s Spring 2022 start when a senior graduate and Jersey Shore Schools alumnus requested that Mellinger be the person who would present him with his diploma during the ceremony. The student was also a first-generation TRIO Upward Bound student whom he helped navigate the financial aid and college application processes.
“We went on stage together and I told her that I was proud of her” he said. “I was honored that she asked me. It was a very beautiful moment.”
Towards the end of the spring semester, Mellinger was instrumental in organizing dog walking events for the campus community. He attended these events with his dog, Bomber, whom he recently went through the certification process as a pet therapy dog to allow the chocolate Labrador to be on campus more frequently. Next semester, he plans to have Bomber with him at the tutoring center two days a week to provide students with stress relief throughout the semester.
Other goals for him for next year include increasing the number of tutors from 35 to 45 by finding new tutors for courses that tend to have higher failure rates, putting in place the required training for tutors, by expanding the SI tutoring model and creating a pathway to provide virtual support services to LHU math and writing centers to enable more students, including LHU Clearfield students, to have access to additional tutoring, if necessary.
“It’s well known, especially in central Pennsylvania, that teachers coming out of Lock Haven are well prepared. Many of my tutors, especially the staff at my center, truly have the heart of a teacher, even if they are not pursuing a teaching degree,” Mellinger said. “I like to see my tutors interact with five, six, seven people who attend a session. It’s very impactful.
“My first semester was very reactive, but I got better at planning and recruiting before the second semester,” he said. “Learning from my peers in Bloomsburg and Mansfield has also been really helpful. So I think the future of tutoring will be really good for LHU students.