Alachua Educator Champions Excellence

Alachua Educator Champions Excellence

Phyllis Meredith, a Head Start Instructor at Metcalfe Elementary School in Gainesville, was named Education Staff Professional (ESP) of the Year by the Florida Education Association (FEA). The award, which carries a $5,000 prize, is FEA’s highest honor for professionals in the field of education staff.

“Education Staff Professionals (ESP) are equal and essential partners in public education,” said FEA Vice President Joanne McCall. “They are our unsung heroes, working tirelessly to serve our children and communities with care and professionalism. This award recognizes the contributions our ESPs make to public education everyday.”

In a nomination letter, Alachua County Education Association (ACEA) President Gunnar Paulson described Meredith as a “true union member” who devotes countless hours to the school community and the association.

A dedicated Head Start instructor, Meredith works closely with her students and cares deeply about their progress. She developed innovative programs and procedures to track her students’ progress and employs a range of learning styles to ensure their success.

Meredith plans to use her ESP of the Year Award money to purchase books for Head Start children in Alachua County so they have books to read at home.

Meredith’s commitment to her young students extends beyond the classroom. She formed a group to prepare Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to deliver to the families of her students in need, and during her visits to students’ homes she works closely with parents on learning activities and encourages them to stay actively involved in their children’s education.

Meredith has always been a leader in her local union. In 1990, she was instrumental in organizing ESPs and, in her current role as Chair of the ACEA Membership Committee, she creates a welcoming, comfortable environment for members and potential members alike.

A devoted mother to her son Tony and is extremely active in her community. She is a member of the Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee, teaches Sunday School at her church, and is Band Treasurer for Hawthorne High. While serving as volunteer EMT/firefighter, Meredith was awarded the Gold Cross for saving an individual trapped in a vehicle by personally cutting them out of the wreckage.

In her affirmation of Meredith’s nomination, ACEA Field Director Sande Calkins described Meredith as “a shining example of a dedicated union member, mother, employee and community activist” who “accomplishes what she sets out to do.”

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