Justice Honors Cameron High School’s Jennifer Schwertfeger as ‘Teacher of the Year’
Educator receives standing ovation from the West Virginia Legislature
WHEELING — West Virginia’s “teacher of the year” Jennifer Schwertfeger this week got a standing ovation from those at the West Virginia Legislature, was honored by Gov. Jim Justice, then drove home from Charleston in a brand new Toyota.
Schwertfeger, a science teacher at Cameron High School, next will represent West Virginia this spring at the National Teacher of the Year ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
“I am looking forward to an exciting year of getting to meet amazing educational professionals as we work together to uplift our West Virginia teachers, giving them the respect they deserve and to make a positive, lasting impact on our youth, who we are blessed to have in our care every day,” Schwertfeger said.
“I view education as the most important issue of current times. Our society must place a high value on the education of our youth because the future of our communities, state and nation depend on uplifting our students.”
Schwertfeger has been a teacher at Cameron High School for 10 years. Her courses include biology, human anatomy, advanced placement biology and physics.
She earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from West Liberty University, and a master of arts degree in science education from West Virginia University. She serves as chairperson of the science department, is a member of the school’s Green Team, and is past president of faculty senate.
Schwertfeger also serves her peers as a Marshall County teacher leader, new teacher mentor and a cooperating teacher for future educators.
She was recognized Wednesday night by Justice during his State of the State address, and received an extended standing ovation from the gallery.
Thursday morning, Justice honored her with a reception at the Capitol. Joining them were representatives from Toyota Motor Manufacturing of West Virginia, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Horace Mann Insurance Company and the West Virginia Lottery.
“I’ve said for a long time that education needs to be our centerpiece in West Virginia,”Justice said. “Since I walked in the door, I’ve made it a point to celebrate our great teachers and Jennifer Schwertfeger is among the very best of the best. She is a shining example of teaching excellence and Cathy and I are thrilled to congratulate Jennifer on this accomplishment.”
Toyota donated a new car to Schwertfeger for use as she travels across the Mountain State to fulfill her duties as “teacher of the year.” She also was presented with monetary awards totaling more than $10,000.
“Toyota West Virginia is proud to continue our long-standing support of the West Virginia Teacher of the Year Program,” Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia President Srini Matam said. “We are honored to help celebrate dynamic educators throughout our state who inspire West Virginia’s students to discover their potential.”
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia also honored Schwertfeger, presenting her with a $5,000 check.
“Highmark West Virginia is honored to recognize our state’s Teacher of the Year for the 19th consecutive year,” said Jim Fawcett, Highmark West Virginia president. “Jennifer already serves as a model for her students and peers throughout West Virginia, and we are thrilled for the opportunity to help her in her journey as she inspires others inside and out of the classroom.”
Horace Mann Insurance Company presented Schwertfeger with a check for $5,000. Additionally, the insurance provider donated $500 through Donors Choose to the six West Virginia Teacher of the Year finalists.
“Horace Mann Insurance Company has a standing commitment to helping teachers plan for bright futures,” Horace Mann President and CEO Marita Zuraitis said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of educators throughout the nation, and today, to recognize Jennifer Schwertfeger, the 2020 West Virginia Teacher of the Year.”
The West Virginia Lottery sponsored the Teacher of the Year Program, providing a $300 grant to each of the county Teacher of the Year winners to use in their classrooms.
“The West Virginia Lottery is a proud sponsor of the West Virginia Teacher of the Year Program,” West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers said. “Our teachers make a tremendous impact in the lives of our children and our future. We are excited that our sponsorship benefits teachers and students in every county.”
Representatives from the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFTWV) attended the event in support of Schwertfeger. AFTWV President Fred Albert presented Jennifer with a check for $500.
Coca-Cola, SMART Industries and Blenko Glass Company are also sponsors of the West Virginia Teacher of the Year Program.
In addition to her statewide duties, Jennifer will be considered for the National Teacher of the Year Award. The national winner will be announced in April.