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Cast Spotlight: Melanie Knauff

by jana on April 21, 2017

After accidentally setting fire to a gas station, romping around the pyramids on a camel, and hiking a trail by hanging onto chains embedded in the mountain wall, Melanie and her husband, Doug, moved from sunny South Florida to Dahlonega, Georgia to lead a calmer life. But, she brought crazy with her. She is zany, loaded with energy and full of chaos. Fortunately, her husband, a retired engineer and therapist, brings a dose of sanity to her life. Although she never had children, she was a mother to many during her twenty-two years of teaching reading, drama, critical thinking, ESOL, special education, and mostly, 6th grade language arts. Once Palm Beach County’s Teacher of the Year, she is now retired. When she isn’t traveling the US in her camper, she enjoys volunteering in schools and with Bear on the Square Mountain Festival. In her spare time, she loves painting, and avoiding housework. A portion of her day is devoted to walking 20,000 steps as part of her family/friends fitness challenge. (Unfortunately, she’s only surpassed her 85 year old father’s seven-day step average once) Most of all, she loves writing and taking to the stage to tell tales of laughter.

Melanie Knauff

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was a problem child, a mother’s worst nightmare. I almost failed high school for lack of a physical education credit. I didn’t think the white snap-front gym suit the school required was flattering, so I refused to dress out. My mother just prayed I’d meet a nice man and get married. Just to rebel, I went to college instead. At the age of thirty-eight, I was the first in the Hubbard clan to ever get a degree.

I didn’t manage to find that husband until I was fifty-three (runaway fiancée several times) He claims to have married me because I’m boisterous, crazy and spontaneous. Of course, those are the same reasons he refuses to travel abroad with me. He can’t get past the time I left the tour company in Egypt, so I could travel on a local bus with goats, chickens, and not a soul that spoke English, so I could get a feel for the culture and see Mt. Sinai. Or that later, due to that excursion, I was detained three hours in the airport and put on a terrorist watch list. But it was exciting.

My students would also describe me as a lunatic. I’m not sure what gave them that impression. Was it the time I twerked during the student/teacher dance contest? (One boy reported his eyes permanently damaged.) Or was it the time I changed the five second rule to the five day rule, so I could eat an M&M I found on the classroom floor. Or maybe, it is the fact I dumpster dive and trash pick to up-cycle or deliver to donation centers. This I tell them as I require a pinky swear to recycle.

Of course, as they say, “what goes around comes around.” Along with my wonderful husband I mentioned earlier, comes a very insane mother-in-law. I know everyone says that, but mine bakes me apple pies because fruit is on my diet.

What’s your favorite piece of writing you’ve ever hit publish on? 

I am yet unpublished. I have no clue what is taking them so long. However, my favorite piece I’ve written, which I often perform is titled “Medical Emergency”. It is based on my niece who attempted to pose as someone with medical training. (She did watch numerous medical shows like, ER, on TV) in order to meet a doctor requiring assistance when he is forced to perform an emergency procedure on a plane. Although, I went to extreme measures to meet Mr. Right, I didn’t go that far. Probably because I didn’t fly much.

As a child, did you listen to your mother? When did you start realizing she may actually know what she’s talking about?

I always listened to my mother, and then did the exact opposite. For instance, she said, “Don’t run around barefoot.” (I had a skin condition). Of course, I jumped off a curb (barefooted, of course), landed on a piece of metal, and hobbled home in a shoe filled with blood. I was sure my mother paid the doctor to give me a tetanus shot to exact revenge on me.

If your mother is still living, do you listen to your mother now?

I’m still to stubborn to listen. Now that we’re both older, at least we can laugh about it. On my wedding day, she said, “Melanie, you’d better pin that dress up in the back. You’re dragging it on the ground. It’s getting all dirty and you’ll never be able to wear it again.” Fortunately, my husband is a prince, and I haven’t need the dress again.

If you have children, what are some things you hope your children take from you, whether you think they’re listening or not?

I don’t have children, but if I did, my advice would be:

Always be true to yourself and others. As a teacher, if a child admitted a mistake, they had a shot at a free pass; lie and the gauntlet would drop.

Take care of the earth and ALL the people in it; it’s the true test of who you are.

And don’t forget to laugh; when you bend over and accidentally pass gas in front of your class, there is really nothing else you can do.

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