Virginia teacher of the year honor goes to Fairfax County educator

Updated 14 October 2013
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Virginia teacher of the year honor goes to Fairfax County educator

WASHINGTON: A Fairfax County first-grade teacher, best known for her dedication to her students in and out of the classroom, was named the 2014 Virginia teacher of the year.
Melissa Porfirio, 39, of Springfield, Virginia’s Crestwood Elementary, was one of eight teachers from across the state up for the honor.
Porfirio was stunned when the state superintendent for public instruction, Patricia Wright, made the announcement during a ceremony in Richmond, the state capital.
“This is a group of dynamic and outstanding teachers,” Porfirio said in a statement. “I was so surprised when my name was called. It is such an honor to represent Virginia’s teachers.” Colleagues describe Porfirio as a mentor to new teachers and someone whose model leadership in the classroom has been featured in training videos for Fairfax schools. She was the 2013 Fairfax County schools teacher of the year and was one of 20 recipients of The Washington Post’s Agnes Meyer outstanding teacher awards the same year.
“Melissa is an exceptional teacher and we are very proud that she has been named the 2013 Virginia Teacher of the Year,” Fairfax County School Superintendent Karen Garza said in a statement.
“Melissa is a gifted educator who instills in her students a love of learning. She is an inspiration to her students and to so many others... She is a wonderful example of the importance and the value of exceptional classroom teachers.”
Timothy Kasik, the principal at Crestwood, said before Porfirio joined Fairfax schools, she worked as a social worker for about five years.
In keeping with that experience, Porfirio is known for dedicating time outside of school to building relationships with students and their families. For example, she attends parent-teacher association events and after-school activities that her students are involved in.
A Crestwood teacher since 2005, Porfirio helped organize the school’s first international night, where families and teachers learned about the community’s diverse cultures through food, music and dancing.
“She is visible in the community,” Kasik said. “From sporting events to ballet recitals, you name it, she’s there.”
A graduate of Catholic University, Porfirio has a master’s degree in education from George Mason University. In September, she was chosen by the state as Northern Virginia’s teacher of the year. In Richmond on Friday, Porfirio received $7,500 in awards and other gifts for her selection as Virginia’s teacher of the of year.
Meanwhile, in Baltimore on Friday night, a Baltimore County high school English teacher won Maryland’s top honor.
Surrounded by educators and elected officials, Sean McCombs accepted the award from Gov. Martin O’Malley and Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery during the annual gala. McCombs, who teaches at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, was one of seven teachers selected as finalists.
“Sean personifies the cutting edge Maryland educator,” Lowery said in a statement. “He is an energetic instructor, making certain his students set goals, commit to those targets, succeed, and move forward toward college or career. His passionate work reflects well on our state’s education system.”
As a result of their wins, Porfirio and McCombs are nominees for the national teacher of the year, which will be announced this spring at the White House.


Ancient skeleton of child found in ruins of Pompeii's bath

Updated 25 April 2018
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Ancient skeleton of child found in ruins of Pompeii's bath

ROME (AP) — Work at ancient thermal baths in Pompeii's ruins has revealed the skeleton of a crouching child who perished in Mount Vesuvius' eruption in AD 79.
Pompeii's director Massimo Osanna said in a statement Wednesday that the skeleton, believed to be of a 7- or 8-year-old child, was found during work in February to shore up the main ancient baths in the sprawling archaeological site. The skeleton was removed on Tuesday from the baths' area for study, including DNA testing to determine the sex.
Osanna said it appears the skeleton might have been first spotted during a 19th-century excavation of the area, since the leg bones were orderly placed near the pelvis, but, for reasons unclear, wasn't removed by those earlier archaeologists.
Experts think deadly volcanic gases killed the child.