Left Hand Laurel – Melinda Coburn

Melinda Coburn, this month’s Left Hand Laurel recipient, with daughters Phoenix and Adaira and husband Sean.

 

Flagstaff Academy parent Melinda Coburn became a Dragon Volunteer when her oldest child entered preschool four years ago. Each week Coburn helps kindergarten students with their math and first-graders with reading. Those interactions lead to students learning and feeling cared for. But those are just a couple of examples of how Coburn’s energy, dedication, and kindness are bringing a ripple effect of positivity to the world.

Coburn and her husband Sean met in junior high school while growing up in Wichita, KS. Melinda went to college at Oklahoma City University, earning her degree in art and vocal performance. They married the summer after they graduated from and within a couple of days they moved to Longmont for Sean to complete his doctorate in chemistry at CU.

For six years Melinda’s work revolved around helping companies mitigate their tax liability. After their daughter Phoenix was born, Coburn became a stay at home mom.

“I’m super lucky my husband is able to take care of us financially, but I would go a little crazy if I was just at home all the time. So, I keep busy,” Coburn said. Her busy-ness revolves around children, family, and giving to the community.

In addition to working with students on math and reading two days a week, she’s also the room mom for Phoenix’s first grade class and for her younger daughter Adaira’s kindergarten class. She organizes their classroom parties and helps out with extracurricular activities.

“Last semester I was able to jump in the greenhouse to help with kindergarten biology class,” Coburn said. “Over Halloween I hosted a traveling spooky science lab to get our elementary kids jazzed about chemistry. The puking pumpkin was a total hit!”

Kindergarten teacher Kristina Beaudoin-Gudmundson said, “She has a creative, fun, kind, and gentle nature about her. She is amazing with not only my class, but any class she volunteers in. She loves to share her love of science with any class - the messier, the better. Flagstaff is very fortunate to have her as part of our dragon family.”

Supporting children is a theme in Coburn’s life. She’s a volunteer child advocate through the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program.

“I provide a voice for children ‘in the system’ because of abuse and/or neglect. I help families navigate big issues like substance abuse, domestic violence, teen suicide attempts, connecting families with services to overcome resource needs (food, clothing, housing), and help families break down barriers that are at the root of educational truancy issues, etc.,” Coburn said.

“There are so many complicated issues,” Coburn said. “You know how you get really overwhelmed with life’s circumstances and you just need somebody who has an objective view of the situation. Sometimes these families are so worried about getting food on the table that it’s hard to see beyond that to address other issues. If someone can step in and say here’s a program that addresses this, it helps them tremendously.”

Coburn and her husband’s nurturing spirits led them to take in their first foster child 10 years ago. Some of the foster children were with them temporarily, but a couple have led to more permanent situations.

The couple now has four children in their home. Phoenix is the couple’s biological child and five-year-old Adaira was adopted after being their foster child from the beginning of her life. They also have an almost two-year-old foster son, Baby B (for privacy purposes, foster children’s names and photos cannot be publicized) and there’s Baby S, their two-month-old foster son. They are hoping to complete Baby B’s adoption in a couple of months.

“We didn’t really picture having so many children,” she said “but it’s a really beautiful thing the way it’s worked out. “

Coburn is also Soup Angel for HOPE for Longmont, a homeless outreach program. Her daughters love to help out by preparing the meals that feed those in need.

“It’s important to my husband and I that we have socially aware children and this is a great way for them to be involved,” Coburn said.

Flagstaff volunteer coordinator Jeannie Torres said, "Melinda exhibits exemplary creativity, cooperation, and hard work in her service to Flagstaff Academy. She can be counted on to help with a special project or ongoing activities and she usually has a baby attached to her while she is doing it.”

She said she used to have lots of hobbies, but life is now very “kid-centered.” She and her daughters enjoy aerial arts, the sense of community at the girls’ soccer games, and doing arts projects together.

“She is an amazing human being who loves children and children are drawn to her because of her kind and giving heart,” first-grade teacher Shellaine Keeslar said.

“If I can show up as a good mom for my kids, and bring extra hugs for their classmate, that’s a good thing,” Coburn said. “Also the whole charter school concept works because parents show up to help. There are a lot of the unique programs that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for parents and community members.”