By Sam P.K. Collins
An outdoor science presentation turned into a celebration at Center City Public Charter School – Brightwood Campus when D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and State Superintendent Christina Grant named Jermar Rountree 2023 D.C. Teacher of the Year.
When she took to the podium on Monday morning, Bowser congratulated students for having the highest school attendance level among District charter schools.
She recognized Rountree as a key part in that achievement due to his work throughout the pandemic and upon students’ full return to in-person learning.
In his eighth year as a physical education teacher at Center City’s Brightwood campus, Rountree, or Coach Rountree as students and staff affectionately call him, continues to impart nuggets of wisdom through various sports.
He’s also embarked on an endeavor to integrate physical education into other academic disciplines.
“Physical education is a catalyst for students to be themselves in an environment that’s for everyone,” Rountree said. “I want to give students the opportunity to learn lifelong lessons and enjoy them. I want to inspire teachers to bring love and provide them with resources to implement physical education in their lesson plans.”
Rountree, who received $7,500, will represent District teachers at the national level with the possibility of being crowned 2023 National Teacher of the Year. Last year, Bowser and Grant recognized Dominique Foster, a pre-K4 teacher at Friendship Public Charter School – Blow Pierce Campus in Northeast, as 2022 D.C. Teacher of the Year. Kurt Russell of Ohio would ultimately win to become 2022 National Teacher of the Year.
Center City’s Brightwood Campus, located on Georgia Avenue in Northwest, has an enrollment of more than 250 students between grades Pre-K3 and 8. Many of the students who spoke highly about Rountree, like Mahlet Haile, had him as a teacher throughout most of their school experience.
“Coach Rountree is a great teacher who cares, listens and encourages,” said Mahlet, an eighth grader. “When you get injured, he gives you a pep talk to get you through,” she added
“He sets up events for children to have a good time. Movie night was a good time to do good things with friends. He and Ms. Novak took us to a DC United Game. It was good for people who haven’t been to a soccer game.”
Ashley Ramos, another eighth grader, echoed Mahlet’s sentiments, recounting instances when Rountree boosted her confidence.
“He connects with you when you’re having a bad time and makes you laugh,” Ashley said. “When I had a bad time at football, he helped out [when the] other children who were bullying me. I felt like I couldn’t do anything but Coach helped me communicate.”
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