WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Meredith Melasecca was surprised by a special award presentation and drive-by salute on her front lawn in West Chester, Pennsylvania over the weekend.
The special ed teacher at Sugartown Elementary in the Great Valley School District was handed a prestigious Citadel Heart of Learning Award by her principal, Kyle Hammond.
It comes at a difficult time. The mother of two young children is battling breast cancer. Her husband, Jeff lost his battle with colorectal cancer last year.
Melasecca told us, "It meant a lot. I am struggling with my own cancer diagnosis right now, and was actually coming off a chemo treatment so physically wasn't feeling that great. With the quarantine, it's hard on everybody. And then to get this surprise just really, really turned my day around. It was a nice reminder of why teachers do what they do every day. It was just amazing."
She found out she was getting the award in February, prior to her diagnosis. The school planned a big assembly to celebrate, but it had to be canceled when stay at home orders went into effect.
"It's a really big deal and Meredith is very deserving of the honor," said Kyle Hammond, the principal at Sugartown Elementary School. "First of all, she's there for her students in a way that I can't even describe. I mean she uses her own time, her own resources like many teachers do."
"I hope that the students and parents I work with can really feel how genuinely I feel about my students and about them not only as learners but as little people," Melasecca said.
Meredith had no idea she had been nominated. She was one of hundreds of nominees. The honor comes with a $500 award from Citadel Bank, money she'll use for her classroom once school is back in session.
The Citadel Heart of Learning Award is a teaching excellence award that recognizes Chester County teachers who show dedication both in and out of the classroom. Chester County students, parents, and community members are encouraged to nominate a deserving teacher.
West Chester teacher battling cancer receives special award and drive-by celebration