Ellicott Mills Middle School's Jeanette Swank named 2024 Howard Teacher of the Year

May 28—Ellicott Mills Middle School teacher Jeanette Swank got a surprise visit to her school recently so officials and colleagues could celebrate her being named the Howard County Schools' 2024 Teacher of the Year.

"[This honor] is a humbling validation of my commitment to education and the profound impact it has on students' lives," she wrote in an email. "This recognition highlights the collaborative efforts of my students, colleagues and community, inspiring me to continue striving for excellence in education. I am deeply grateful for this acknowledgment as it fuels my passion to inspire, motivate, and challenge the youth who will eventually become our future leaders."

Swank began her more than two-decade-long career in education in Baltimore County where she served as a middle school Spanish teacher and foreign language department chair, according to a news release announcing the award.

She joined the Howard County Public School System in 2006 as a seventh grade English teacher and department chair at Wilde Lake Middle School. In 2014, she moved to Running Brook Elementary School, where she taught and was the team leader for third and fifth grades. In 2019, she moved to Ellicott Mills Middle School, where she teaches sixth and seventh grade English.

Swank has held numerous leadership roles during her educational career, including being a member of school improvement, leadership and professional development teams, and mentoring teacher interns, according to the release. She is currently pursuing National Board Certification.

At an April 25 Board of Education meeting, Acting Superintendent William Barnes recognized Swank for her award.

"Jeanette is certainly the teacher I wanted as a student in middle school," he said. "A teacher that students feel connected with and inspired by is someone who will make a difference in their lives."

Swank's colleagues and students said her ability to connect with, engage and inspire students is one of many traits that distinguish her as a teacher, according to the release.

In his nomination letter, EMMS principal Peter Gaylord described her as "a true educational visionary," who prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion.

"[Swank] stands out for her unwavering commitment to incorporating culturally responsive teaching practices," Gaylord wrote, "ensuring that her students not only learn the subject matter but also see themselves and their cultures reflected in the curriculum."