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West End Pre-K Teacher of the Year Presented Award After Surprise Announcement

Because of the recent challenges regarding COVID-19, Melillo was treated to a virtual celebration in lieu of the traditional in-person awards ceremony normally observed for these outstanding educators. However, several Rome City School’s administrators, DECAL officials and more decided to make the trip to West End on Wednesday, October 14th, to formally present her with this distinctive award.

West End Elementary School Pre-K teacher, Heather Melillo, was surprised via Zoom with the announcement of a lifetime as she was named Georgia’s Public Pre-K Teacher of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).

Because of the recent challenges regarding COVID-19, Melillo was treated to a virtual celebration in lieu of the traditional in-person awards ceremony normally observed for these outstanding educators. However, several Rome City School’s administrators, DECAL officials and more decided to make the trip to West End on Wednesday, October 14th, to formally present her with this distinctive award.

Visiting West End to present Melillo with a special banner and $3,000 she can use for her classroom was Meghan McNail with Georgia’s Pre-K Program; Carrie Ashbee, Executive Director of DECAL; Katie Dempsey, Georgia State Representative; Louis Byars, Rome City Schools Superintendent; Dr. Dawn Williams, Rome City Schools Assistant Superintendent and Dr. Dennis Drummond, West End Principal.

McNail oversees the Teacher of the Year Program for DECAL and was beyond happy to finally meet Melillo to congratulate her for this amazing achievement. “The Teacher of the Year (TOTY) program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional Pre-K teachers. We are so excited to have Heather on board this year to serve as an ambassador for Georgia’s Pre-K program,” said McNail.

“It truly is such an incredible honor,” echoed Katie Dempsey, who was eager to congratulate Melillo for her dedication to teaching children. “We should be so proud; the school system should be so proud, and Heather should be so proud. It is so important for children to have a great beginning. Without a very focused start, and all of the support that goes with it, the future is much harder for each and every learner.”

“We know that we have great teachers in our system, and it is wonderful to see one of our own recognized for the work she does,” said Byars. “Ms. Melillo is a true example of what we have to offer in our school system. I have had the pleasure of sitting in and watching her hard at work; she does an excellent job at keeping her students engaged. This is a well-deserved and earned honor. We are so proud of her and know that she will do great things representing Georgia’s Pre-K Program for our state.”

“Giving outstanding professionals the flexibility to do what they love to do is what we hope to offer here at West End Elementary School,” said Dr. Drummond. “Our teachers love to educate children, and the hard work they put in with their professional development and learning is reflected in the success of our students. I know, like all of our teachers, Ms. Melillo has put in a lot of time outside of working hours to develop the lessons in her classroom. We are so proud of her and we are glad she is being recognized for all of her hard work.”

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