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DBT40 Honoree: Rebecca Vitelli

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Position: Special Education Preschool Teacher

Employer: Colonial Early Education Program

Age: 27

Born to a pair of New York educators, Rebecca Vitelli has practically been training all her life to become the 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year. A special education preschool teacher at the Colonial Early Education Program in New Castle, Vitelli is using her platform to promote inclusive and equitable early childhood education.

Last year, a parent shared with Vitelli her struggle to involve her son with autism in the family’s Baptist church. Vitelli observed the student in that setting and worked with his teachers to help him successfully participate in children’s services and Sunday school.

Even before becoming 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year, Vitelli prioritized building connections with community partners because those relationships could lead to information about “special needs-friendly” events and resources that Vitelli can then pass along to families to realize they are not alone.

In March, as the coronavirus pushed instruction online, Vitelli began learning new technology and programs to hold large daily group Zoom sessions, weekly one-on-one sessions with each child, and parent consultations.

Vitelli served on school reopening groups for her school, district, and the state of Delaware to help make decisions and recommendations for teaching this fall. She is also a member of the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children.

Former Vice President Joe Biden invited Vitelli to the press conference release of his 21st Century Care and Early Education Workforce Plan.

The National Education Association Foundation announced that Vitelli will be one of the educators who will be awarded the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence in 2021.

In her free time, Vitelli enjoys swimming, reading, watching movies, traveling, playing violin, dancing, taking photos, and listening to music — with Phil Collins being one of her favorite artists. This summer she expanded her cooking skills and even tried knitting. 

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