GCU Course Introduction

This page is intended to serve as my introduction to classmates and professors in the online courses I take at Grand Canyon University as a part of my doctoral journey.

Dear Classmates and Professor,

I have been enrolled as an online learner with Grand Canyon University since 2014. I have earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. I have a Masters degree in Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development from California Baptist University. I earned my long desired Masters in Educational Technology in late 2015 from GCU and enrolled in GCU’s Doctoral Studies program soon there after. In June 2017 I completed my second residency and it was an amazing experience.

I started my career as an elementary educator in 2000 with the Fontana Unified School District. I have taught grades 2nd through 5th and I enjoy teaching upper elementary. In 2011 I became a Nationally Board Certified Teacher with a Middle Childhood Generalist emphasis. I am very passionate about educational technology, personalized learning, educating the whole child and helping all learners find their passion. I enjoy working and learning in virtual environments, namely Second Life and Minecraft. Since 2007 I have networked with and learned from other educators in Second Life, not to mention met a variety of amazing people from all over the globe. In 2013 my then 3rd graders introduced me to Minecraft and I slowly began to learn about this virtual world as well. As a part of my Masters Practicum, I launched my own Minecraft server in 2015. I have worked with 3rd through 6th grade students remotely as a part of a distance learning experiment. Learning Minecraft for educational use has been a challenging experience for many reasons, but one I have enjoyed.  In December 2015 I left my 4th grade classroom to become a Teacher on Assignment/Instructional Coach for my school district. In pursuing my EdD I aspire to become an educational leader and do my part to bring the change needed to make sure we are providing our students an education that is properly preparing them for their futures.

I am also an online group facilitator for the National Education Association (NEA) and I was thrilled to become a facilitator for the Digital Tools and Learning 3-5 group as a part of their EdCommunities. I hope for it to be a learning experience in how to make online learning and virtual PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) much more engaging for all involved. Anyone is welcome to join, all you need to do is make a free NEA account, then join the group. It was through my involvement with NEA’s EdCommunities that I had the honor to meet Dr. Casey Reason, a former chair of the Doctoral Leadership Studies department at GCU. His work in online teaching and learning is inspiring.

After spending the majority of my doctoral journey exploring a variety of topics, I have decided to make the topic of my dissertation related to School Wide Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (SWPIBS). There are a lot of possible ways I could pursue this topic and I am in the process of revising my prospectus to hone in on the best way to address this topic in my dissertation.

I have been married since February 2001 and had my one and only child in December 2004. We live in Colton, California with our two dogs:  Dot (my son’s mixed breed who shares his birthday) and Ryker (a Fox Red Labrador Retriever, whom I adore).

I am very excited as I come closer to entering the full dissertation phase of my doctoral journey.

I look forward to our class together.


Melanie Ruiz