Reformer ToolboxLogin

CancelLost your password?

#AskExcelinEd: How My Neighbor Inspires Me to Work for All Students

• Melissa Canney


During our #AskExcelinEd Summer Learning series, you’ll get to know some of ExcelinEd’s team as they share what they are learning over the summer. Remember to join us on social media to ask your burning policy questions. Enjoy!

Meet Melissa Canney

ExcelinEd’s Director of Innovation Policy


I feel like I went back to school early this summer when I started with ExcelinEd in early July. In a few short weeks, I have learned so much through the organization’s resources and from my incredibly smart and dedicated team members. I am thrilled to be a part of this team and to keep learning every day!

I Prefer…

E-Book over Print Book

Text over Phone Call

Smart Watch over Traditional Watch

Coffee over Tea

My Favorite Quote

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation.”

John F. Kennedy

Thought Starter

What Inspires Me

I have an 11-year-old best friend named Ellie. Though we initially met at a neighborhood cookout, we have built a friendship based on our mutual love of Harry Potter (and other YA lit), burger and movie nights, dogs and musicals. In addition to our shared interests, Ellie keeps me up to date on her middle school experience, her hopes (and fears) about being admitted to a magnet high school and her dreams about her life beyond high school.

She offers an insightful, honest perspective about what is working in her school, what isn’t working and recommendations for ways her experience could be improved. Just like Ellie, each student across the country has his or her own dreams, insights and recommendations for how to make learning more personalized and meaningful. Our students inspire me, and I believe that we can continue to improve our educational systems so that all students have the opportunity, knowledge and skills to make their dreams become reality.

ExcelinEd Resource Highlight

I absolutely love the career and technical education playbook series! With the recent Perkins reauthorization, these playbooks will be an invaluable resource for states and other invested stakeholders to ensure that state plans and local programs truly prepare all students for success in postsecondary and career. Check out our most recent installment, Auditing a State Career and Technical Education Program for Quality.

About the author

Melissa Canney

Melissa Canney is the Director of Innovation Policy at ExcelinEd. She previously served as the Executive Director of Divisional Operations and Communications in the Division of College, Career and Technical Education at the Tennessee Department of Education. Melissa’s experience in Tennessee included policy analysis and implementation, communication strategy development, grant management and data analysis related to college and career readiness. A Vermont native, Melissa earned a B.A in Sociology from Stanford University and an M.P.P. in Education from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her dog Moxie.