//DECAL Teachers of the Year Finalists Announced

DECAL Teachers of the Year Finalists Announced

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DECAL Announces 2020-2021 Finalists for Georgia’s Pre-K Program Teachers of the Year Winner from Public School and Private Center Will Be Chosen in September

ATLANTA, Ga., (May 12, 2020) – The delivery may have been different, but the news was just as exciting Monday as the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning announced the six finalists for 2020-2021 Georgia’s Pre-K Program Teachers of the Year. In past years, Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs and CALi, the agency’s mascot, made surprise visits to the finalists’ schools. This year, due to COVID-19 and social distancing, the visits were made via online Zoom meetings. Finalists are from Rome, Demorest, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Atlanta, and Hiram.

The 2020-2021 finalists are Heather Melillo from West End Elementary School in Rome; Deana Snowden from Demorest Elementary School; Tricia Floyd from Maxwell High School of Technology Pre-K in Lawrenceville; Genevieve Rodriguez from Discovery Point #3 in Duluth; D’Arri Moore from the Andrew and Walter Young YMCA in Atlanta; and Alderline Healy from the YMCA Paulding Early Learning Center in Hiram.

Each finalist received a $500 cash prize from the Georgia Foundation for Early Care + Learning after their applications were reviewed and scored by a panel of impartial judges. Next the six finalists will each receive a classroom observation by a Pre-K Specialist this fall, submit a small group video to be scored by outside judges, and face a panel for an in-office personal interview.

In September, DECAL will select a winner from a local public school system and a winner from a private child care center. They will receive a $3,000 check for themselves, $2,000 for a classroom makeover and supplies, and $2,500 to cover out of the classroom costs while the teacher is away.

“All Georgians can be proud of Georgia’s Pre-K Program that helps lay a solid foundation on which the academic careers of the state’s four year olds can be built,” said Commissioner Jacobs. “Since the program was piloted in 1992, more than 1.6 million children have entered kindergarten better prepared to succeed. That preparation, however, would not have been possible without the dedicated Pre-K teachers and assistants who implement this program every day. Recognizing these committed professionals by choosing Pre-K Teachers of the Year is one way to thank them for their efforts.”

Among other requirements, candidates for Georgia’s Pre-K Teacher of the Year must have been employed as a Georgia’s Pre-K lead teacher during the 2019-2020 school year, taught as a lead teacher in a Georgia’s Pre-K classroom for a minimum of three years, and must be planning to continue as a lead teacher in a Georgia’s Pre-K classroom during the 2020-2021 school year. Winners will serve as ambassadors for Georgia’s Pre-K Program including public speaking, representing Georgia’s Pre-K at various meetings, and modeling effective classroom practices.

This school year approximately 84,000 four year olds attended Georgia’s Pre-K Program. The voluntary, lottery-funded Pre-K program has been recognized as one of the top programs in the nation, based on quality standards, teacher qualifications, and enrollment. Georgia’s Pre-K Program is universal – meaning that any age eligible child residing in Georgia may attend the program regardless of family income. Georgia’s model for providing the Pre-K program is unique in that it is offered through a public-private partnership in local school systems, in private child care centers, and in other facilities.