Melissa Fugate calls Linsdale, Tennessee her hometown and is a life-long resident of Polk County. Melissa earned her bachelor degree from Tennessee Wesleyan, and then went on to Tennessee Tech where she earned her master degree and an Education Specialist Degree. Now Melissa is the Senior Capstone teacher and the Theater Arts teacher at her alma mater, Polk County High School, where she was once a member of the Drama Club and Future Teachers of America. It seems Melissa knew early on exactly what she wanted to do in life.
As an educator, Melissa has received many honors including Polk County High School’s Teacher of the Year in 2016 and 2018. She is the co-sponsor of the Polk County Drama Club and the high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. She is also a Jobs for America’s Graduate in Tennessee (JAGTN) specialist.
On top of contributing to the arts in her community, Melissa has shared her services in the adjoining McMinn County. She currently serves on the board of PFLAG Athens and has previously served on the board of Love, Period.
“Art has the power to change people’s lives for the better,” Melissa said. “With that in mind, I’m very thankful for and proud of all the students and adults who use their time and talent to make Polk County Drama Club productions possible. I couldn’t do any of the work I do without them.”
Directing plays for the drama club has been some of the most impactful experiences in Melissa’s life. The students and adults who make those plays possible inspire her because of the effort they put into acting, dancing, singing, and creating and sometimes this is done while working to overcome personal challenges, all just to bring happiness to others through their performances. Melissa went on to say, “It’s incredibly heartening to see young people commit themselves to creating something positive and joyful in a world that often seems to value cynicism over sincerity. These students give me hope for the future of our community.”
Melissa and her husband, Brent Tuggle, have two children, August and Olympia Tuggle.