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Press Release

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Department of Education Announces Florida’s Top School-Related Employee of the Year

~ Five employees selected as finalists for unparalleled service to their schools ~

TALLAHASSEE – Leon County School District’s Rachel Melson, 21st Century Site Coordinator at Bond Elementary School, was honored today by Florida Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith as the winner of the 2011 Florida School-Related Employee of the Year. Melson was selected from among four other finalists who were chosen based on their unique ability to help their schools be successful while also providing outstanding service to the teachers and students they work alongside.

“The education process involves a team of dedicated professionals both in and out of our classrooms, and this awards program seeks to recognize the important roles that support personnel play in the success of our students,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “I applaud Ms. Melson and all of our finalists for their continued work to ensure the best possible learning environments for our children.”

“Ms. Melson goes above and beyond as coordinator of after-school program activities at Bond Elementary, so it’s an honor that she’s been named the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year,” said Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons. “She has not only enriched program offerings for Bond’s students, but also has developed strong relationships with local businesses and community organizations. She sets a great example for public education.”

This year’s finalists for School-Related Employee of the Year are:

  • April Stage, Instructional Paraprofessional from Staton-Weirsdale Elementary School in Marion County
  • Michelle Muniz, Home-School Liaison from J.D. Parker School of Science, Math & Technology in Martin County
  • Pamela Paone, Instructional Assistant from Hudson High School in Pasco County
  • Charles Derexson, Secretary/Bookkeeper from Ridgecrest Elementary School in Pinellas County

The Florida School-Related Employee of the Year receives an award of $1,000 from the Department of Education, and each finalist receives an award of $475. In addition, each district nominee receives an award of $100.

The Florida School-Related Employee of the Year Program recognizes outstanding education support personnel for the significant contributions they make to their schools and district school systems. Award selection is based on an application showing the nominees’ efforts to go beyond the basic requirements of their duties and contribute to the academic success of students, schools and the district. The program honors one state award winner and four finalists. Finalists were selected from a total of 61 nominees.

For more information about the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year award, please visit