A Utah elementary school principal was honored in Washington, D.C., on Thursday as one of the nation's outstanding elementary and middle-school principals.
James Melville, the principal at Freedom Elementary in Highland, has worked in education for 31 years and has been a principal for the majority of that time.
Among 60 principals chosen from across the nation by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, Melville was honored for his superior contributions to his school and community.
Employees at Freedom Elementary say he was chosen because he works to foster a sense of community within the school, which he does by caring for students and teachers.
"You can tell that he truly cares about us," said Alisha Johnson, who teaches fifth grade at Freedom Elementary. "I feel like he won this because of his good heart. He's dedicated to education and higher learning."
Johnson said Melville's dedication to education shows when he goes the extra mile. He helps with bus duty at the beginning and close of school each day, and he works to make teacher training meetings interactive and fun through the use of technology.
Johnson has worked with Melville for nine years. Teachers never want to leave the school because of the positive environment that Melville works to create, she said.
"Mr. Melville is honestly one of the happiest bosses I think you could ever have," Johnson said.
Another fifth-grade teacher at Freedom Elementary, Jennie Beckstead, agrees that the principal's positive attitude makes a difference.
"I love my job. I love the people I work with," she said.
Beckstead has worked at the elementary school for four years. Throughout her tenure, she has experienced health issues and other struggles.
When her husband died, she said, Melville proved that he genuinely cared about her through constant and sincere communication.
"It really means a lot that he's such a caring person," she said. "It makes coming to work something that's positive."
Beckstead also said that Melville is set apart as a leader because he's always looking for ways to move the school forward through enhanced learning opportunities and increased faculty relationships.
Melville was nominated by the principals in the Alpine School District for the award.