WASILLA - It's just an average day at Snowshoe Elementary in Wasilla, but Melanie Redington is anything but an ordinary teacher. And her kids know it.
"She's really strong," said third grade student Gavin Harrington.
For Melanie, teaching is about more than reading and writing. It's about getting kids to think and be active. She hopes to lead by example.
"I regularly give kids a break when we're in the middle of academic work. My expectation is kids work for between 15 to 20 minutes, and I like to do a physical break with them," said Redington, who had her kids do push-ups between their afternoon lessons. "I think that movement is so important to learning, and there are a lot of kids who are not designed to be sitting the lengths of time that are in a school day."
"Miss Redington wants a healthy body and I think it's really cool she's a snowshoe teacher," said Kolt Beus, another student.
A healthy body is putting it lightly. Five days a week you'll find her at the gym. She treats working out like a job because, in a sense, it is.
Melanie is a professional bodybuilder.
"We can all go to the gym and we can all do cardio; it's what we do in the kitchen and what we don't do in the kitchen," she said.
For Melanie and her husband, Joee, eating right is a job in itself as well.
"We eat a dozen eggs a day. I eat six, Mel eats six. She eats more food than I do when she's training and building muscle," said Joee.
Melanie consumes three pounds of protein a day. During her training that includes a lot of chicken and vegetables and, of course, protein shakes. But she doesn't expect her family to follow her lead.
"She's crazy, she's a crazy, crazy person. I like food too much to do it myself," said her son Jacob.
All her hard work and strict diet paid off. At 40 years old, just two years after she started lifting, Melanie took home the top prize in the Alaska Bodybuilding Fitness and Figure competition in the women's open division.
"It's exciting, it's good and she works hard for it and I'm proud of her for accomplishing her goal," said Joee.
"I'm in the best shape of my life. Never give up on yourself. Investing in yourself is the very best investment you can make because the more you give to yourself, the more you can give to other people," said Melanie.
It's a gift she hopes will be as lasting as the lessons she teachers, letting her students know it's never too late to become extraordinary.