Tampa Bay Lightning March 2024 Teacher of the Month

Future GoalsTM Program

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Tampa Bay Lightning March 2024 Teacher of the Month


Whittnie Merlau


Fort Braden School

Classroom Team:

Please write a short bio about yourself and your teaching career!

I started out as a paraprofessional in a behavior classroom in 2019 working with 3rd-5th graders with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities. In the middle of last year, the teacher left and the students were in need of a teacher, so I stepped up to the challenge. Over the summer, I transitioned to a new school and started as an ESE teacher for 5th-8th grade. I became a teacher to stand up and support those students who have everything going against them. The ESE population is filled of some of the brightest and creative students and they need someone to advocate for them. Outside of school, I am a graduate student at the University of West Florida and I am involved in international missions in Nicaragua. I love what I do and the students and families that I serve.

What is your favorite part of the Future Goals™program? How do you see STEM in the game of hockey?

I have been a hockey fan for quite a few years now and there is already so much science around the game, but its more than that, there is a focus in how the ice is kept for, to the blade on the skate, to everything in between. My favorite part of this program is showing my students that you don’t have to be the athlete to be apart of the game.

If you played hockey, what position would you play?

If I played hockey, I would play right defenseman. I would play defenseman because much like my job, I have to defend the goalie, much like my students, so the other players can’t take shots on the goalie.