Melissa Porfirio Named FCPS 2013 Teacher of the Year
Melissa Porfirio, a first grade teacher at Crestwood Elementary School, has been named the Fairfax County Public Schools 2013 Teacher of the Year. Porfirio will represent FCPS in Virginia’s Teacher of the Year competition; the winner will be announced in fall 2013.
Porfirio has also won the Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award for educational excellence, which is presented annually to a teacher from each school division in the Washington metropolitan area. The goals of the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Awards are to recognize excellence in teaching, to encourage creative and quality instruction, and to contribute in a substantive way to improving education in the Washington area.
Principal Timothy Kasik praises Porfirio for the efficient way her classroom runs. “It is always amazing to see how smoothly everything functions,” he explains. “The students have routines and systems in place for all transitions and there is never a moment of down time.” Kasik also notes that Porfirio has a way of making learning fun for her students. “Her students love coming to school and each one of them always has a smile on his or her face,” he adds.
Parents agree that Porfirio is skilled at meeting individual students’ needs. Jennifer Killmer says that the teacher made a huge difference in her son’s life as she worked with him to improve his reading skills to grade level in a matter of three months. “Not only did she do amazing things with his education, but she also made him love school. She had these fun cheers that she would do with (students) and still today he uses them all the time.” Parent Heather Trammell says that Porfirio “took the time to learn sign language so that she could better capture my daughter’s attention in class,” helping the child reach her potential. Using Responsive Classroom as a model, Porfirio encourages students to demonstrate what they have learned during a personal history unit in a number of ways: by designing a poster with pictures and words, creating a board game or interactive SMART™ Board game, writing an autobiography, acting out key events in their life, or developing questions and answers for an interview. “These multiple opportunities that match learning styles increase overall engagement,” explains Porfirio.
Porfirio has taught at Crestwood since 2005 and received the school’s Human Relations Award in 2008. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from the Catholic University of America and her master’s degree in education with a focus on curriculum and instruction from George Mason University.
Debra Lindsay Nominated for 2014 Grammy Music Educator Award
Debra Kay Robinson Lindsay has been teaching elementary general music for 38 years in Fairfax County Public Schools. She is the past president of the Virginia Elementary Music Educators Association, is the current Virginia chair of the Music in Our School’s Month Campaign and is a National Board Certified Teacher in early and middle childhood music. She serves as secretary on the board of directors for the Virginia Chamber Orchestra.
Ms. Lindsay was recently nominated for the 2014 Grammy First-Ever Music Educator Award. She and her Crestwood After School Theater (CAST) students were featured in the April 2013 edition of NEA Today. A 2010 Fairfax County Teacher of the Year finalist, 2009 and 2010 finalist for the National Teachers Hall of Fame, 2010 Horace Mann Fellow, Debra was also named the Virginia Outstanding Music Educator in 2003 and the 2007 Music Teacher of the Year by the Opera Guild of Northern Virginia.
Ms. Lindsay was a contributing member of the 2007 Virginia Department of Education Music K-5 Standards of Learning Strategies Correlation Writing Project. She is the author/composer of four series of lesson plans and arrangements for the Virginia Chamber Orchestra and is the author of numerous articles and books by MusicWorks, The Core Knowledge Foundation and NAFME/Rowman & Littlefield. Her publications are sold in book and music stores around the world. She was a Fulbright Memorial Fellow in Japan, was a Virginia Department of Education Fellow in Russia, has served as an online mentor for the National Association for Music Education, taught beginning music educators in FCPS’s Great Beginnings/Continuing the Journey classes, and conducted several honors choruses in Virginia. Her elementary groups have appeared at the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia, at embassies, national conventions and at The White House.
Ms. Lindsay enjoys experiencing international culture and is a frequent traveler and adventurer, traveling to all the continents except Antarctica.