POCOMOKE – A Worcester County assistant principal was recognized last week for being named the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals’ Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year.
Students, faculty, staff and school board officials gathered at Pocomoke Elementary School (PES) last week to recognize Assistant Principal Melissa Freistat, who was recently named Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP).
Freistat said she had known about the distinction since March, but was surprised last Wednesday to find that her school had arranged a celebration assembly in her honor. Guests, she noted, included family members and school board officials.
“We had presented at a conference for the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals in March at the Hyatt in Cambridge,” she said. “That’s when I learned I had won the award. When we came back to school Dr. Browne announced it, but they just had a surprise ceremony.”
Freistat said she applied for the award in November at the suggestion of Principal Michael Browne, who was named a National Distinguished Principal for 2017 by MAESP.
“I believe I was the first one in Worcester County to be an Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year and to have the Principal of the Year right next door is really cool,” she said.
Freistat attributed the recognition to new professional development and peer coaching strategies she implemented at PES.
“It was emotional,” she said. “You work really hard and you don’t ever expect to get recognized for the work that you do, so it was very rewarding and emotional. I was excited for the school. I was excited for the kids and the teachers because they allow me to do the work that I do.”
Freistat also praised her colleagues for their support.
“I don’t think I would have won it without the support of my colleagues and all of the staff and faculty here at Pocomoke Elementary School,” she said. “We are one big family and this is kind of like a family award. We all share it.”
Freistat, who is currently in her fourth year as assistant principal at PES, will be moving to Pocomoke Middle School next year to fill a vacant assistant principal position left by a series of school leadership changes. She said she was pleased to have won the recognition at the elementary school.
“I’ve been excited to earn it here while I was at Pocomoke Elementary School,” she said, “but when I go across the way it will come right with me.”
Freistat said she and award winners from other states will also be recognized at a National Association of Elementary School Principals conference in Orlando this July.