[UPDATE] Rachel Melson Named Florida 2011 School Related Employee of the Year

By: LCS Release, Jill Chandler Email
By: LCS Release, Jill Chandler Email

Update 6:49pm by Jill Chandler

WCTV's very own Domestic Diva is named the state school related employee of the year.

Rachel Melson is the first person to win the award in Leon County since 1984.

The award was a complete surprise. Melson thought she was getting her step dance team to perform for one of the girls who made a perfect score on her FCAT.

She was in complete shock when they named her state school employee of the year.

Melson said, "It's just a phenomenal feeling right now... I can't even express it. I'm never at a loss for words, but right now, I can honestly say, Rachel is at a loss for words to describe this feeling."

This has been a big year for Rachel. She just got married two weeks ago, and could not be more excited to win this award.

Department of Education Press Release

TALLAHASSEE – Leon County School District’s Rachel Melson, 21st Century Site Coordinator at Bond Elementary School, was honored today by Florida Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith as the winner of the 2011 Florida School-Related Employee of the Year. Melson was selected from among four other finalists who were chosen based on their unique ability to help their schools be successful while also providing outstanding service to the teachers and students they work alongside.

“The education process involves a team of dedicated professionals both in and out of our classrooms, and this awards program seeks to recognize the important roles that support personnel play in the success of our students,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “I applaud Ms. Melson and all of our finalists for their continued work to ensure the best possible learning environments for our children.”

“Ms. Melson goes above and beyond as coordinator of after-school program activities at Bond Elementary, so it’s an honor that she’s been named the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year,” said Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons. “She has not only enriched program offerings for Bond’s students, but also has developed strong relationships with local businesses and community organizations. She sets a great example for public education.”

This year’s finalists for School-Related Employee of the Year are:

* April Stage, Instructional Paraprofessional from Staton-Weirsdale Elementary School in Marion County
* Michelle Muniz, Home-School Liaison from J.D. Parker School of Science, Math & Technology in Martin County
* Pamela Paone, Instructional Assistant from Hudson High School in Pasco County
* Charles Derexson, Secretary/Bookkeeper from Ridgecrest Elementary School in Pinellas County

The Florida School-Related Employee of the Year receives an award of $1,000 from the Department of Education, and each finalist receives an award of $475. In addition, each district nominee receives an award of $100.

The Florida School-Related Employee of the Year Program recognizes outstanding education support personnel for the significant contributions they make to their schools and district school systems. Award selection is based on an application showing the nominees’ efforts to go beyond the basic requirements of their duties and contribute to the academic success of students, schools and the district. The program honors one state award winner and four finalists. Finalists were selected from a total of 61 nominees.

Update 6:54 PM by Jill Chandler
Rachel Melson from Bond Elementary is the 2011 employee of the year.The school held an academic awards ceremony this morning where Melson thought the step team she coaches was performing.
They opened the curtains, and there was Superintendent Jackie Pons to award her as Employee of the Year.

Melson was surprised, and humbled by the honor. She said, "I loved everybody else being here, but I think the looks from the students and the reactions from the students was the best thing. To see how excited they were for me that's just really rewarding."

Melson's students presented her with a handmade poster congratulating her. Melson coordinates the after school program at Bond and established a nutritional program at the school called the Fitness and Nutrition Club, or FAN.

And if she looks familiar, it may be because she's also WCTV's own Domestic Diva, who whips up dishes in our kitchen!____________________________________________________
Tallahassee, FL—

This morning Superintendent Pons informed Ms. Rachel Melson, 21st Century Site Coordinator at Bond Elementary, of the news that she had been named Leon County Schools 2011 School Related Employee of the Year.

“It’s a great day whenever you can reward an employee for her outstanding commitment to students,” said Superintendent Jackie Pons. “Ms. Melson’s dedication, and the dedication of Leon County Schools employees like her, has made it possible for our school district to earn an A for seven straight years. Her amazing work is just one example of a lot of extraordinary work that is happening in schools throughout our district every day.”

Rachel coordinates the afterschool program activities and serves as a liaison between staff, parents, Principal Pam Hightower and the community. She goes above and beyond her job description, building relationships with local businesses and community organizations and starting first of their kind programs such as the Fitness and Nutrition (Fan) Club. She has developed an extensive array of enrichment offerings that include: African drumming, violin, ballet, guitar, step, flag corps, physical fitness, art, fashion design, and so much more.

“I have had the privilege of watching Rachel take ownership of the afterschool program at Bond, and through her hard work and passion for the success of every child she has turned a blank canvass into a priceless work of art,” said Marlow Hudson a Project Manager for the District’s 21st Century Program.

Beyond the work at Bond Elementary, Rachel is a member of the Junior League of Tallahassee, has been recognized by 100 Urban Entrepreneurs, was one of Tallahassee Magazines’ “Women to Watch”, and tapes a cooking segment that airs on a local television network.

“When one thinks of the word phenomenal Rachel comes to mind,” said Bond Principal Pam Hightower. “She is a wonderful employee, everything she does is completed at a high level of excellence and she always puts our students at the center of whatever she does.”

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