Mason Alumna Named Virginia’s 2014 Teacher of the Year

Posted: October 22, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: November 22, 2013 at 10:21 am

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Melissa Porfirio

Melissa Porfirio

Melissa Porfirio, MEd Curriculum and Instruction ’05, was recently named Virginia’s 2014 Teacher of the Year by the Virginia Department of Education. Porfirio, an alumna of George Masons University’s College of Education and Human Development, is currently a first-grade teacher at Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield, Va.

Porfirio was selected from eight Virginia 2014 Regional Teachers of the Year who were announced in September. In previous years, she received the 2013 Teacher of the Year Award from Fairfax County Public Schools and the Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award for educational excellence.

While at Mason, Porfirio earned a master’s degree and licensure in early childhood education, early childhood special education and English as a Second Language education.

“Melissa was a dedicated student and a reflective learner committed to working on behalf of culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse young children and their families,” says Julie Kidd, associate professor and academic program coordinator of Mason’s Early Childhood Education Program. “The faculty congratulates Melissa on her accomplishments and appreciates the important work she does with children and families.”

Timothy Kasik, principal of Crestwood Elementary, praised Porfirio for the efficient way her classroom runs.

“It is always amazing to see how smoothly everything functions,” says Kasik. “The students have routines and systems in place for all transitions and there is never a moment of downtime. Her students love coming to school and each one of them always has a smile on his or her face.”

As the first-grade team leader, Porfirio works with her colleagues to ensure that each child’s individual needs are met and they are prepared for second grade. The group analyzes student performance, shares teaching strategies and uses data analysis to adapt instruction for each child.

“Students do not arrive in our classrooms as blank slates for us to just fill up with information,” says Porfirio. “They come to us with hopes and dreams and an inherent excitement for what they want to learn about. Through community building and rules and procedures we design as a class, I create an environment that is welcoming and safe, builds confidence, enhances strengths, encourages students to take risks and exposes them to all of the possibilities that come through learning.”

As a Fairfax County teacher for eight years, Porfirio has taught at Crestwood Elementary School since 2005 and received the school’s Human Relations Award in 2008.

Porfirio earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Catholic University before coming to Mason. Prior to becoming a teacher, she was a social worker in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and taught English in Seoul, South Korea.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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