LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Mary Ann Mello

Position: Second Grade Teacher
School: Hope Valley Elementary School
School District: Chariho Regional School District
City, State: Hope Valley, RI

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Mary Ann Mello was nominated by Jennifer Waterman, the parent of a student.

"What can I say about Mary Mello?  She is one of the most outstanding teachers my husband and I have ever had the privilege of knowing," said Waterman. "Our family first met Mrs. Mello when our son, Noah, was blessed to have her as his second grade teacher.  Noah has always loved school, but being with Mrs. Mello made him love it even more. She worked hard with him to make sure he achieved all he could. Her good-natured, patient attitude helped him thrive in her classroom environment."

"Mrs. Mello has an excellent knowledge of technology and always encourages the students to try new ideas," said Waterman. "She challenges her students to be the best they can! She makes them want to be in school and love learning. Her love for all things Disney makes her classroom a truly magical place to learn. Her classroom is such a homey, loving place to be."

"We have been blessed that our twin girls are a part of her classroom this year," said Waterman. "While this year has had its challenges with the pandemic, Mrs. Mello has adapted her teaching to this new style. She has come up with creative ways for the students to stay engaged and want to learn.  She has created many learning activities through various online sites that make learning fun and engaging during this trying time."

"Mrs. Mello is always available to speak with the parents about their concerns and the successes of her students," said Waterman. "She is professional and always willing to work with the parents. She also works well with her colleagues and shares ideas to make the school a more productive environment."

"Mrs. Mello has certainly made a difference in our children's learning. We know that she has made a difference in so many others as well," said Waterman.



Comments (31)


endawnis Spears Posted 3 months ago

Mrs. Mello is devoted to her students, she models compassion and kindess everyday. She uses creative and innovative ways to energize her students. I have witnessed my daughter's excitement in Mrs. Mello's class when facing academic challenges- which is precisely what life changing educators do: they create inextricable links between learning and joy that will make them lifelong learners. Mrs. Mello has a high emotional IQ and is in tune with her students emotions as they navigate life as young people. She clearly understands the interconnected nature of intellectual and emotional well being. In addition to all of these incredible attributes, Mrs. Mello posesses intellectual humility. She knows that there are areas where she is always learning and striving do better. Recently, our school district has been thinking critically about racial equity in our curriculum and Mrs. Mello has initiated and followed through on content specific conversations about ways she can incorporate local Indigenous history and culturally competent lessons into her plans, on top of being an incredible distance learning teacher. Her impact training a generation of someday parents, teachers, and leaders in our community is lasting and meaningful

Clifford B. Bowyer Posted 4 months ago

My daughter is part of Mrs. Mello's second grade class in the midst of this global pandemic. A time of such uncertainty and added stress on everyone, from faculty and staff to the students and families. Yet my daughter is excited every day to go to school and see what Mrs. Mello has planned for the day, loves the "Disney" atmosphere, and is eager to learn. Even before my daughter was in class with Mrs. Mello, I have worked with her through the PTO and know her to be a voice of the teachers and a source of ideas to help bring new activities and events into the classroom and school that the students will enjoy. I'll end it with that, as I asked my daughter if there was anything more to add, and she said, "I just really think she's a great teacher."

Kristen Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Mello is an amazing teacher! My 2nd grader is extremely lucky to be in her class this year. My oldest, who is in 4th grade, also had the opportunity to have Mrs. Mello as well. I have two very different learners and Mrs. Mello easily connected with both, and encouraged, supported, and inspired both girls equally. She truly knows her students and how best to support them. She is a very knowledgeable teacher, who employs best practices within her classroom. My girls constantly tell me how funny and how much Mrs. Mello loves to laugh. She had gone above and beyond with engaging her students this year with distance learning activities using a digital platform. I'm amazed at the skills my 2nd knows! She is a kind and thoughtful teacher who you can tell loves her job and students.

Giuseppe Gencarelli Posted 4 months ago

I am so happy to write a comment for Mary Ann Mello. As principal of Hope Valley School, Mrs. Mello is a VERY special teacher who is always going above and beyond in her job. Mrs. Mello is always learning to improve her already amazing teaching craft. She is a role model teacher for the entire district and the school community admires her dedication and creativity that she demonstrates. Parents rave about her, not only as a teacher, but as an unofficial social worker always worrying about the mental health of her students. Mary Ann Mello is willing to spend the extra time that is necessary to find what makes each of her students shine. She is a tremendous advocate for her students as well as her colleagues. In short, Mrs. Mello certainly demonstrates an original and creative approach to teaching, exhibits resourcefulness, engages students, and makes a positive impact on not only her classroom but her community, colleagues, administrators, school, and district.

Alison K Ward Posted 5 months ago

I first met Mary Ann at a craft event sometime in 2012. My first impression of her was of her was that she is talented and creative and was someone I knew I'd like to be around. Lucky for me, our paths crossed again as I took a job at Hope Valley School in 2014 as a teacher librarian. I have collaborated in Mary Ann's classroom for years and been witness to her innovative style. She is one of the first to try something new, attend a conference and bring back something new to try, or read about something and say "let's do this". Others have already commented on her traits as a loving and caring educator. I want to share a few other points that cause her to stand out. For one, her laugh is infectious and her students adore her. Her coworkers too- She is the one people go to for advice, to get support and ask for help. Mary Ann is so much fun to be around and her "joie de vivre" is contagious. This merriment could be from her love of Disney but I think it's her soul. As a result, she does projects and lessons that leave indelible prints in her students' hearts. To touch a life is to teach, but to change a life...that is something that only a few educators really achieve. Luckily for me, my life has been changed because of Mary Ann's influence. I have been able to extend my professional relationship with her to one of a personal one as well. To be around her is to be filled with joy. Mary Ann the adventurer, enthusiast of the the arts and appreciator of the little things in life has in turn made a permanent, lasting effect in my life. The way Mary Ann faces life, both in the classroom and in the outside world, has influenced me personally. One of her favorite Broadway shows is "Wicked" and it is fitting for as the song says "because I knew you, I have been changed for good". Our school community, her students both past and present, and anyone who she meets, is changed for good by Mary Ann Mello.

Jeanine Mankoff Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann is such a beloved member of our school community. Her dedication to her students and families is commendable. She is a leader amoung her peers and always quick to share new ideas. When we had to go virtual last Spring, Mary Ann rose to the challenge to adapt to a digital classroom. She shared her research and insight with all of us during such a difficult time. She continues to improve her craft and support all of us with our new digital platforms. Mary Ann delivered a terrific PD on digital resources to our district to share her expertise. She brings elements of fun to all that she does both in class and virtually. She brings many years of experience as a special educator to deliver fabulous content and differentiation! Maryann changes the life of every student she teaches. We are so very blessed to have her in our school family! Congratulations and thank you for all that you do!

Maeve Murray Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann's warmth, empathy, and enthusiasm for empowering students and other educators shine through in everything she does. I had the pleasure of getting to know her in her role as a Fuse RI Fellow, observing her in action as she developed her coaching skillset to support teachers interested in pushing their professional practice. As a coach, she was an excellent thought partner, adept at striking a balance between encouraging growth and risk-taking, while still respecting peoples' professional comfort zones. Any recommendation or strategy she shared was rooted in meeting the needs of students, and was one that she was willing to try in her own classroom. Her ability to inspire others without coming across as pushy or judgmental is such an asset to her school, district, and statewide education communities. Thank you Mary Ann!

Crystal Posted 6 months ago

Mrs Mello is one of the best teachers my son has had! If anyone is deserving of this award it’s her! She goes above and beyond for her students.

Caleb Grant Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Mary Ann Mello continually goes above and beyond - and she is dedicated to doing so for the long run. I am currently the father of a student in Mrs. Mello's class, and my eldest daughter had the privilege of being her student several years ago. In a nutshell, Mrs. Mello constantly aims to be the best teacher she can be, and when you add this to her nimble classroom skills, kind heart, and years of experience, the result is an immeasurable gift to her students. She uses technology, choice, and a variety of work stations and room layouts (pre-covid) to keep her students' brains and bodies moving and engaged. She balances educational screen time with outdoor snack times and mindful breathing breaks. She reaches out to parents and asks for their input and concerns. And she actively responds to any issues in the classroom (be they with one student or on a group level) with focused diligence rather than alarmist drama. I remember one year she had a particularly challenging group of students, but rather than throw up her hands she went back to the drawing board again and again, bringing in new ideas, lessons, and class structures to help the students make up the ground they needed to cover. She never gave up on their hearts or minds. When I asked my eldest daughter what she thought I should write, the first thing she said was, "Well, she's really fun and gives a lot of choices... but when she needs to be firm she can be good at that, too. Like when kids are being mean." And I think in simple terms that sums it up. Mrs. Mello has an extremely big heart, which has made my daughters love learning from her. But she is not a push-over. She will call kids out and hold them accountable in a way that is firm and consistent without being mean - which is essential to their development as learners and whole human beings. Kindness, reflection, listening to others, thinking and caring about your work vs. rushing - these are all values that she pushes the kids to internalize so they can go on to make the world a better place.

Richard Lepore Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann was my student teacher’s co-operating teacher and she was wonderful. She was kind, caring and helped that future teacher become an outstanding teacher. It seems she makes a difference to both her young students as well as her college students.

Jessica Witham Rivard Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Mello is an incredible teacher! My son Thomas is in her 2nd grade class this year and began this year as the only second grader doing distance learning. Despite this "challenge", Mrs. Mello embraced it with gusto! She included Thomas in every aspect of class and even though he wasn't "in person" he loved her from the minute he met her. Thomas returned to school after about one month, and he told me that Mrs. Mello was even nicer, and more fun than he thought she was the moment I picked him up fro his very first day. She motivates, encourages, and gets Thomas so excited to learn. He has always loved school and been excited to learn, but Mrs. Mello's knowledge of technology and her ability to bring new fun activities into the classroom makes learning so exciting for him! I am so very happy she is my son's teacher and that has gotten this well deserved nomination!

Fran Smith Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann is a dedicated teacher who see the potential of every student who enters her classroom. She is quick to notice students who may need alternative learning strategies. Mary Ann's integration of technology into her lessons on a daily basis has made the learning process in her classroom fun and enjoyable for all her students. She has also introduced Steam Education which is an approach to learning that uses Science, Mathematics, Technology, Engineering,and the Arts. It was a wonderful sight to see Mary Ann's second grade class collaborating with the kindergarten classes as they were paired up in groups to conquer the Steam challenge for the week! This kind of collaboration and critical thinking is key to life's challenges. Mary Ann's approach to creative learning is an asset that could definitely be a life changer to her students! Congratulations Mary Ann!

Dori Carpenter Posted 6 months ago

I had the pleasure of working with Mary Ann for 6 years (and hope to again soon!). When our school started a new Spanish program and told teachers they had to work together with the Spanish teacher, most teachers were up in arms, but not Mary Ann! She was a joy to work with from day one and she rose to the challenge of adding Spanish to the many things on her plate. Every time I was in her classroom, I learned something new that I could use in my own teaching. From alternative classroom seating to positive reinforcement, to behavior management, I was always getting new ideas from her! She has touched the lives or so many students and is truly deserving of this award!

Dana Warwick Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann made such an incredible influence on me and my year while I was student teaching in her classroom in the 2008-2009 school year. She not only allowed me to take over lessons as soon as I walked into her room, but she gave me the tools to feel confident in my teaching abilities. She consistently pushed me to test out new lessons and always supported me in any question I had along the way. She shared incredible feedback and also involved me in as many meetings as she could so I could really see what all goes in to a day in the life of a teacher. Although I spent the three years prior in classes learning all about teaching methods, Mary Ann gave me the skills, confidence and real life experience to be the teacher I am today. I couldn’t be more grateful to have gained not only an unforgettable and enriched experience, but also a great and lasting friendship. Mary Ann not only inspires her students to be successful, but also her colleagues and teachers to be.

Catherine Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Mello is a wonderful teacher and person. She advocates for her students and fellow teachers. Her love for teaching knows no bounds. She is certainly a life changer!

Jess Geremia Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann is a phenomenal teacher. She strives to create a classroom environment that meets kids where they are, teaches independence, and allows for choice. Mary Ann collaborates with colleagues throughout the school such as the librarian, tech coach, reading specialist, and world language teacher to design innovative lessons and rich learning experiences for her students. Mary Ann is a model of growth mindset for her students. She works tirelessly and does not shy away from trying something different if she thinks it will benefit her students. I have been so inspired by her as a colleague. Congrats on this well-deserved nomination, Mary Ann!

Jo LaFountain Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Mello is one of the best elementary school teachers in all of Rhode Island. My daughter Em had her last year, and she STILL talks about how organized, fun, kind and creative Mrs. Mello was. When the year ended and we went into lockdown and full Distance Learning, Mrs. Mello managed to keep her class going and her kids engaged. I will forever be grateful to her for this perseverance and determination. Mrs. Mello deserves this award as she is the best of the best!

Gina Lee Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann is an exceptional teacher!! All 3 of my boys had her in the second grade!! She goes above and beyond to make sure her students are taken care of! She’s creative and innovative with her lessons to engage all learners. My boys were sometimes challenging and I could always count on Mrs. Mello’s firm yet loving nature. I also work with her as a colleague in our district! She is truly one of the BEST! Everyone needs a Mrs. Mello in their life!! She is very deserving of this award! ??

Jennifer Clarke Posted 6 months ago

She's more than a teacher, she's a voice for her students! She always learning and passing on those skills to make engaging lessons. She's a top notch teacher.

Keri Jordan Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Mello is an amazing teacher and always reaches out to her students and supports them. My daughter Sydney had her when the pandemic started. No one knew this would ever happen and the way she pulled it together for the class was amazing. No matter how stressed she might have been trying to teach online she came on every morning with her students wearing a silly hat or something and always had a smile on her face. If a student had a question or even a parent she immediately made a time to meet with them or even respond to an email. She never left anyone hanging. The children couldn't do fieldtrips so she did virtual ones even one to Disney World so the children would have fun. She always made sure she had the help ready for students for other classes if they needed them. She is an amazing person and teacher and always there for the students no matter. Mrs. Mello always goes over and beyond for students no matter the situation and always put smiles on her students face. Mrs. Mello is well deserving of this award.

Shelly Ross Marcantonio Posted 6 months ago

Through word of mouth, we always heard how great Mrs. Mello was as a teacher. When my only son, Preston was given the privilege to have her as a teacher, her teaching capabilities exceeded her reputation. She is a teacher that takes the time to get to know her students, makes them feel relaxed, comfortable and motivated to learn. Preston has a special place in his heart for Mrs. Mello to this day, saying she is the best teacher he has ever had. On the last day of school, he literally cried for over an hour because he never wanted any other teacher than Mrs. Mello. With that said, what was most rewarding about Preston having her as a teacher, were the life changing insights to us as a parent. When we conferenced with Mrs. Mello and she pointed out in a caring manner of some of my sons learning traits, this allowed us to be better parents guiding our son along through life. By making us aware she has been a life changer. Also, Mrs. Mello has always been there to volunteer with activities, PTO events, even stopping by years later to buy pumpkins from my son and catch up with him to see how he is doing. We all have that teacher that holds a special place in our heart and I know Mrs. Mello will be the one for my son.

Pat Moore Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann considers the whole student in her approach to education. She understands that not every child has the same strengths and weaknesses and she proceeds accordingly. I've seen her (repeatedly) incorporate creative social and educational strategies into her practice--and watched her children fly to greater heights of confidence and accomplishment because of this. She's what every parent hopes for as a teacher for their child(ren).

Keri Jordan Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Mello was an amazing teacher. My daughter Sydney had her for second grade and when the pandemic happened and schools all went online the way she pulled it off for the class was amazing. The stress I imagine she went through you never saw on her face and she was always there to help parents or students. Every morning she would have a silly hat on and Sydney could not wait to see her. She made sure Sydney had time with other teachers to learn also. She brought kids on virtual field trips. Mrs Mello is an amazing teacher and person. She deserves this award because she always goes over and beyond for her students and parents no matter what

Gina Tripodi Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann Mello is not just a life-changer to her young students but also to her student-teachers. I was in awe of the way she was able to positively touch the lives of everyone in the school and reflected more than once about how lucky I was to have her as my cooperative teacher. She is a teacher who encourages your constant success and she devotes all her energy toward her students and colleagues. She is a treasure and model for all.

Melinda López Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann has been a dedicated teacher since I met her 23 years ago! She is innovative, thoughtful and impactful!

Sue Krause Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann has been a friend and colleague of mine for almost 20 year. She is an amazing teacher who always gives 110% to her students. She is often a leader in our district PD opportunities and participates in many other district initiatives. She is always willing to share her knowledge with her fellow teachers. She is creative and her students are always engaged. Congratulations to you Mary Ann! This is a well deserved honor!

Kristen Danusis Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann is one of the best teachers I have ever worked with. She works tirelessly to create engaging, yet challenging lessons for her students. She is also always willing to help other educators & share her lessons. I am truly amazed at her dedication to teaching & the constant excellence she displays as a teacher. She raises this profession to the pedestal it belongs on.

Sue Palmaccio Posted 6 months ago

Mary Ann Mello makes the world a better place and she’s doing it one student at a time .

Elaine Repping Posted 6 months ago

I’m very happy to see Mary Ann finally get the acknowledgment she deserves. Mary Ann goes above and beyond to ensure her students have what they need to succeed not only in their education but also in their personal development. She is a great role model and an excellent teacher. Keep inspiring those around you Mary Ann!!

Jorik Repping Posted 6 months ago

So deserved!! Mary puts the needs of her students above all. It’s inspiring to see someone so dedicated to not only her job, but also to the success of her students. Mary does not just teach her students a subject, she provides them with knowledge they can apply throughout their lives. During these trying times she has not lost a beat, instead she has embraced the available tools to provide her students with the same high quality classes she is known for. Keep up the amazing work!!!

Dina Kaye Posted 6 months ago

Long overdue! Mrs. Mello gives her all to her classroom every year but especially this year in such trying times. She always comes up with new and exciting ways to teach using every tool at her disposal. She dedicates her time to make learning fun and engaging for her students.