IWCS names Jessica Brannan as Teacher of the Year

Published 10:39 pm Friday, May 8, 2020

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A teacher of Spanish at Windsor High School has been named the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year by Isle of Wight County Schools. This information comes from spokeswoman Lynn Briggs.

Brannan is in her sixth year of teaching and her second year with IWCS.

With schools closed for the rest of the academic year, the final selection process and the traditional announcement had to be modified somewhat, according to Briggs. Members of the Teacher of the Year selection committee interviewed the three finalists virtually using the platform Zoom, instead of the standard in-person interview. Typically, once the committee has made its decision, Supt. Dr. Jim Thornton arranges a surprise visit to the teacher’s classroom to announce them as the division’s Teacher of the Year and award them a beautiful arrangement of flowers. That was obviously not going to happen this year.

Dr. Thornton and the administrative team at Windsor High, Principal Laura Sullivan and Assistant Principal Dawn Carroll, put a plan in place to surprise Brannan with the news. Sullivan scheduled a weekly check-in meeting with her staff Monday morning through Zoom. Shortly after the meeting started, Dr. Thornton joined online and made the special announcement to Brannan in front of her colleagues. In addition, Sullivan and Carroll were waiting outside of Brannan’s house to deliver the traditional arrangement of flowers.

A video of the celebration can be viewed on the IWCS Facebook page and YouTube channel.

“I don’t know if I meet the criteria of the top Teacher of the Year, but I just feel honored to be here,” Brannan said when interviewed by the selection committee. “To be honest, this has pushed me to do better, so just being in this position, I really appreciate it.”

She also serves as the Girls’ Varsity Soccer Coach and the Student Government sponsor at WHS. Brannan grew up in Rochester, New York, where she received her undergraduate degree in Spanish and Education from the College at Brockport, and completed her master’s degree from Canisius College. She values the power of positive student-teacher relationships and strives to develop long lasting connections with each of her students.

Brannan fills her instruction with hands-on activities and cultural experiences that make learning enjoyable and meaningful. She will be in the running for one of the Regional Teacher of the Year awards through the Virginia Department of Education.

The Teachers of the Year selected for 2019-2020 also include: Mallory Bradley, Hardy Elementary School and the Elementary Teacher of the Year for IWCS; Ericka Jurist, Smithfield Middle School and the Middle School Teacher of the Year for IWCS, Jason Henderson, Smithfield High School; Jeff Hampton, Georgie Tyler Middle School; Christine Rosenberry, Carrollton Elementary School; Karen Reeder, Carrsville Elementary School; Rachel Batts, Westside Elementary School; Christine Byrum, Windsor Elementary School.