(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
A 2006 McCook High School graduate, Malleck earned her four year degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
But after being away from McCook for awhile, Malleck has learned that it has exactly what she wants.
"It's kinda ironic - when you're a teenager, you can't wait to get away from your hometown," she said. "But you don't really know what you have until you leave."
She and her husband, Brandon Malleck, both loved the way they grew up in a small town and want to give that to their kids, too. In a larger city, she was exposed to how other families functioned and it wasn't always how she was raised, she said.
"The morals, the values, the great work ethic, that's what we want our kids to learn," she explained.
It's kind of a deja vu experience for Malleck, with her first teaching job in the same science classroom she attended as an eighth grader.
"I tell my students, I know what it's like to be an eighth grader, I took science in this same classroom, " she said.
Not everyone would want to be surrounded by junior high students everyday, but Malleck relishes her job.
"I always look forward to being with my students, their take on things. We have lots of discussion, bouncing ideas around. I emphasize to my students that we need to discuss concepts to understand them and apply them to other problems
"It's an interesting age, we are preparing them for high school," she said. "They are still learning how to organize their papers and get ready for class." She admits that at this age, "their minds can be elsewhere," but that she's firm about what she calls "classroom management."
"We're here for science. I'm strict, but I joke with them, too. I have high expectations for my students, but I try to balance that with learning. I don't want to make it too hard, but I do want them to learn."
Encouragement from the other junior high teachers has made the transition easier, she admits.
"There's great support here, Mr. Berry, the principal, is very supportive and also the other teachers. Out in the hallway, they always ask if I need anything, if everything is going okay."
One of the teachers who has been helpful includes Colleen Olson, who teaches math at the junior high and had Malleck as student. Olson still has a poster Malleck made as a eighth grader that she uses as an example of how to do a certain project.
"It's embarassing, about Princesses of Pop, with Britany Spears and glitter, lots of glitter," Malleck laughed. "Colleen keeps threatening she's going to show it to my students."