FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – A local elementary school teacher has earned the state’s highest honor for teaching.
Anthony Swann, a fifth-grade teacher at Rocky Mount Elementary, was named the 2021 Virginia Teacher of the Year during a virtual ceremony on Thursday night.
“First of all, I’d like to thank God for the opportunity to serve his children. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was 11 years old. Words cannot express how humbled and grateful I am to have this honor,” said Swann.
Swann was recognized for his commitment to his students by creating an inclusive environment and supporting his students' social and emotional health.
“I plan to utilize this opportunity to give hope to those students who feel that their current trauma or economic hardship is the end of their world. Teachers, together we have the ability to change one life at a time through our influence. Let’s continue to change the world, one child at a time," said Swann.
The honor is awarded annually by the Virginia Department of Education. Swann is now the state’s nominee for 2021 National Teacher of the Year, which will be awarded in the spring at a White House ceremony.
Swann spoke with 10 News the day after his win. He said he was inspired to teach after his teacher in fourth-grade comforted him during an emotionally traumatizing moment.
“Social services knocked on my classroom door to take me to a foster home,” Swann said. “My teacher, Miss Jerretta Wilson...she grabbed me, hugged me, and whispered in my ear, ‘Anthony, everything is going to be alright.’”