The Utah State Board of Education announced that the Logan City School District Teacher of the Year is one of the five finalists for the 2020 Utah Teacher of the Year.
Hillcrest Kindergarten Teacher Andrea Melnick, who was chosen from among 25 district and charter school teachers of the year from across the state, said she was grateful for her students and their parents as well as her colleagues at Hillcrest.
“The whole thing’s been very unexpected,” Melnick said. “I feel very appreciative.”
With over 20 years of experience in teaching and education research, Melnick said teaching was not in her plans until her senior year of college when she heard of and applied to Teach for America, a program that places recent college students into underserved schools.
“Since I had always enjoyed working with young children, I asked to teach kindergarten,” Melnick stated in an email to The Herald Journal. “I didn’t know then that it would be a 20-year journey for me before I ended up in a kindergarten classroom.”
When she applied, Melnick requested to be placed in a kindergarten class but her first year as a teacher began as a sixth grade teacher in New Jersey. Melnick went on to teach fourth, third and second grades in Alabama and Vermont.
After teaching the second grade, Melnick said she decided to pursue a master’s degree in early childhood education at the University of Michigan. She then went on to work as an educational researcher.
Melnick said she missed working with children directly and when she saw an opening at Hillcrest Elementary, she was prompted to return to the classroom. While at Hillcrest, Melnick taught the fourth grade before finally teaching kindergarten.
“I missed working directly with children and am very happy to be back in the classroom, but my time in research has had a significant impact on my teaching,” Melnick said. “I now approach teaching as a researcher, considering my students’ needs and adjusting my instruction accordingly.”
Melnick was named LCSD Teacher of the Year in May. LCSD Superintendent Frank Schofield said Melnick was an outstanding teacher and an example of the caliber of the educators in the district.
“We’re extremely grateful to have her in our kindergarten program at Hillcrest,” Schofield said. “Her commitment to students as well as her commitment in supporting her colleagues and working as part of a high quality high functioning team.”
According to Schofield, the district is excited Melnick was chosen as one of the five finalists.
“We hope that it goes in her direction and that’s a recognition she is able to receive,” Schofield said. “Regardless, we’re extremely appreciative of the work that she does and the things she does.”
Melnick said as a teacher, she understands the importance of teaching academics as well as supporting the students’ social and emotional well-being. She said she appreciates the support she feels from her colleagues.
Melnick said one of her favorite parts of teaching is connecting with all of the different people she works with, including the students, their families and her colleagues.
“I love working with my students and seeing their excitement when they show growth, when they realized they learned something,” Melnick said. “I think in Logan we have really great support and I really appreciate that.”
The 2020 Utah Teacher of the Year will be announced during a banquet honoring all of the district and charter teachers of the year on Sept. 5. The winner will represent the State of Utah at the National Teacher of the Year Program in Washington D.C.