“The thing I love most about working and teaching at SWS … the sense of community.

The thing I am most proud of … the special education programs.

In my free time I enjoy … listening to music (she is a graduate of Duke Ellington High School in Washington D.C., and enjoys everything from classical to hip hop, like live music), knit, read and eat on H Street.

I see the role of the teacher in the learning process as … a facilitator of knowledge and of children’s strengths so they can access the things they need to move forward. Just as water seeks its own level, I think children have an innate understanding of their potential and how they want to meet it and as someone who has been both a classroom teacher and a special education teacher, I understand that when you listen to your kids and where they want to go, it makes it so much easier because they can help you chart the course as you set the guidelines.”


Melissa Brisbane grew up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  She has a Bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in Spanish. She holds two master’s degrees, one in Clinical Social Work from Howard University and another in Early Childhood Special Education from The George Washington University.

Ms. Brisbane began her career at SWS in 2002 as a teaching assistant. She left for a brief time to open up a public charter school while working towards a second Master’s degree. In 2009 she returned to SWS as the school’s first full-time special education teacher. In 2016 she was hired as the school’s Assistant Principal of Special Education and Operations.