College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

CEHD Alumna Melissa Porfirio is Named FCPS 2013 Teacher of the Year

April 16, 2013

First grade teacher Melissa Porfirio, an alumna of George Mason University's Graduate School of Education, was named 2013 Teacher of the Year by Fairfax County Public Schools.

Melissa Porfirio

Ms. Porfirio, a teacher at Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia, also received 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.

"Melissa was an outstanding student," said Dr. Eva Thorp, associate professor of early childhood education and early childhood special education. "It has been a treat to see the way in which she has continued to make a difference in the lives of young children and their families." While at George Mason University, Ms. Porfirio earned a master's degree and licensure in early childhood education, early childhood special education, and English as a Second Language education while focusing on culturally, linguistically, and ability diverse young children and their families.

Principal Timothy Kasik praises Ms. 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 Ms. 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. 

As the first grade team leader, Ms. 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 Ms. 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.”

Porfirio has taught at Crestwood since 2005 and received the school’s Human Relations Award in 2008.


Melissa Porfirio, 2013 FCPS Teacher of the Year is surprised with the good news by Dr. Jack Dale, FCPS Superintendent; Ilryong Moon, School Board Chairman and Member At Large; and other well wishers.


About CEHD

George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) includes two schools, the Graduate School of Education, which is the largest in Virginia, and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism. CEHD offers a comprehensive range of degrees, courses, licensures, and professional development programs on campus, online, and on site. The college is distinguished by faculty who encourage new ways of thinking and pioneering research supported by more than $75 million in funding over the past five years.

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