Island Coast teacher receives excellence in education award
First-year Island Coast High School teacher Fallon Melendez was one of three Hispanic educators in Florida who received the Hispanic Heritage Month Excellence in Education Award from Gov. Charlie Crist.
Melendez received a $1,500 award, along with Milagros “Millie” Brinson from Seminole County and Obeth Diaz from Brevard County.
Hispanic teachers from one elementary, middle and high school were nominated by either a principal, teacher, parent, guardian or student.
Island Coast High School counselor Susan Shoemaker nominated Melendez for the work she did with her class last year.
Principal Peter Bohatch said Melendez showcased a lot of skills for a first-year teacher and she really understands what special needs students need.
“She did an outstanding job last year working with children,” he said, adding that her award was a great honor for the school as well.
Melendez said she went to the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee for the award ceremony, which lasted for an hour and a half on Monday. She said students received their scholarships and awards, along with the educators.
She taught intense intervention last year and is teaching social communications this year. Her strategy for teaching is to provide individualized teaching to students to help meet their needs and provide the best learning atmosphere for them.
Last year when she taught her intense intervention class, she brought her students out into the community. Melendez said she also had student aids come into the classroom to work with the students.
Melendez said since she received the award during her first year of teaching it was “so much more important and exciting to me.”
She said she was really excited to know that someone was paying attention to how she was teaching the students.
“It is really special because somebody acknowledged the work I did,” Melendez said.
She said could not have received the award without the team she works with at Island Coast High School.
Melendez is planning to use the $1,500 she received to pay for her first class at graduate school in January. She said she is planning on pursing education leadership for her graduate studies.
This Friday in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Melendez said she is planning on cooking an Hispanic meal to teach diversity to the students.
Crist also recognized elementary, middle and high school students for an essay and art contest in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Three students received a four-year full-tuition scholarship, which is provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, to any Florida state college or university.
Elementary aged students wrote their essay about a well-known Hispanic Floridians who made a difference in their life or the community they live in. The middle and high school essays had to include an interview with an Hispanic American who has devoted his or her life to serve others in strengthening the community and state they live in.
“I am proud to recognize all of the contest participants who displayed their outstanding abilities and talents, and congratulate this year’s winners,” Crist said in a prepared statement. “Hispanic Heritage Month is truly an exceptional time to showcase the importance of Florida’s Hispanic American community and its influence on our state’s success both now and in the future.”
Two Florida students also received a $250 gift card for their artwork of native Florida animals in their habitats.
Florida has a Hispanic population of nearly 4 million people, which makes it the third largest in the nation. Their heritage is traced back to Cuba, Puerto Rico or Mexico. There are also more than 266,000 Hispanic businesses in the state of Florida.