RHODE ISLAND ENGLISH-AS-A-SECOND-LANGUAGE EDUCATOR
TO BE NAMED
NATIONAL TEACHER OF THE YEAR AT WHITE HOUSE CEREMONY
DC, April 20, 2004 Taking her father's advice that she
stay in school so her hands wouldn't look like his, Kathy Mellor
has taken that "defining moment" in her life to heart
as she works with students.
In spite of
their lack of education because they had to leave school early to
support their families, my parents instilled the value of one in
me and spoke openly about how important school was," she says.
"'A house without books is like a house without windows,' my
father said and I have taken that perspective and built on it to
reach beyond the classroom and into the community which so tremendously
For this philosophy
and helping her students feel constantly engaged in learning, Mellor
will be named 2004 National Teacher of the Year by President George
W. Bush at a White House ceremony on April 21, 2004. Also recognized
at this event will be the 2004 State Teachers of the Year.
Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by the Council of Chief
State School Officers (CCSSO) and Scholastic Inc., the world's largest
publisher and distributor of children's books. The program focuses
public attention on teaching excellence and is the oldest and most
prestigious awards program for teachers. Mellor, the fifty-fourth
National Teacher of the Year and the first to represent Rhode Island,
begins a year as a full-time national and international spokesperson
for education on June 1, 2004.
As an English
as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Davisville Middle School in
North Kingstown, Rhode Island for 19 years, Mellor has been at the
forefront of designing and implementing a district ESL program since
she began teaching there. As she describes it, "because the
program deals with the many variables students present, allows ESL
children to stay in their home schools, and allows teachers to do
a great deal of cross-content collaboration, the program is cognitively
demanding and students aren't isolated from their American peers
so a great deal of natural language acquisition occurs."
a developmental language program which provides each student with
one to three periods of instruction per day according to the child's
proficiency level in listening, speaking, reading and writing,"
she continues. "The amount of service decreases as the level
of English and amount of mainstreaming increases." Instruction
combines language and literacy instruction and some support in the
content area subjects. The program teaches students the English
language, its communicative features and literacy skills necessary
to learn through English and achieve academically. Applicable Rhode
Island English language arts standards are used in goal-setting
and grading, and the scope and sequence of the program parallels
natural language development taking the students through all five
instruction is better able to address differences in age, educational
background, learning style, and rate. Parental involvement is nurtured,
leading to the development over time of a strong parent-teacher
rapport. Students are brought up to grade level and fully exited
from the program using a variety of measures to indicate their readiness
to compete and achieve alongside their native-English speaking peers,"
One of her ESL
colleagues in North Kingstown, Patricia Kirwan, describes Mellor
as "single handedly developing the most successful ESL program
we have and being a tireless advocate for the ESL student population
and their families. Kathy's deep ties to the ESL community are evidenced
by the many invitations she receives to attend special cultural
events inside these families' homes," Kirwan says. "These
families yearn to give whatever they can back to the woman who has
deeply cared for, respected, and loved their children. Over the
years our parents have risked coming into our schools because of
the relationships Kathy has fostered. Despite their limited English
they come because they know they'll be safe, welcomed and respected."
And Kamer Kosereisoglu,
a parent of one of her former students, says her daughter's English
improved "unbelievably" in just one year with Mellor because
of her high but realistic expectations for students. "She knows
how difficult it is to adjust to a new culture, learn another language
and be successful in school," Kosereisoglu says. "Mrs.
Mellor was always there for us and I was able to ask her anything,
school-related or not. She always encourages students and their
families to speak their first languages at home and not to forget
Mellor was born
in Providence, Rhode Island and graduated from Cranston High School
East in Cranston, Rhode Island. In 1970, she earned a bachelor's
degree in Elementary Education from Rhode Island College. She earned
a master's degree in education from Rhode Island College in 1977
and a master's degree in teaching, with an emphasis on ESL and cross-cultural
studies, from Brown University in 1989.
Mellor was a
substitute teacher in the Cranston, Rhode Island School Department
from 1970- 1974. Between 1974 and 1980, she was a stay-at-home mother
to her three children, David, Adam, and Paige, and spent part of
that time working on her master's degree and beginning her course
work in ESL. She was an ESL teacher at the International Institute
of Rhode Island from 1980- 1985 and a continuing education teacher
in the Rhode Island College English Department from January 1985
to June 1986. Her work in the North Kingstown School Department
began as a consultant for ESL between April and June of 1985 before
beginning at Davisville Middle School. Mellor has taught full-time
for 24 years.
of representatives from 14 national education organizations chooses
the recipient from among the State Teachers of the Year, including
those representing American Samoa, Department of Defense Education
Activity, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S.
Virgin Islands. The other 2004 National Teacher of the Year finalists
are Keil E. Hileman, II, a social studies/ museum studies teacher
at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas; Jason Fulmer,
a third-grade teacher at Redcliffe Elementary School in Aiken, South
Carolina; and Dennis Griner, a social studies/audio-visual communications
teacher at Garfield-Palouse High School in Palouse, Washington.
of the Year are selected on the basis of nominations by students,
teachers, principals, and school district administrators throughout
the states. Applications are then submitted to CCSSO, where the
national selection committee reviews the data on each candidate
and selects the finalists. The selection committee then personally
interviews each finalist before naming the National Teacher of the
Year. Additional information on the National Teacher of the Year
Program can be accessed at http://www.ccsso.org/ntoy.