Franklin County Teacher Anthony Swann reacts to winning the 2021 Virginia Teacher of the Year title

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 5:29 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - A Franklin County educator’s hard work has paid off. Anthony Swann is Virginia’s 2021 Teacher of the Year--with a shot at the national title next.

Administrators say his inspirational story and positive outlook got him here.

“I was in fourth grade. I remember sitting in class and social services knocked on my classroom door to take me to a foster home,” Swann, a fifth grade teacher at Rocky Mount Elementary, said.

It was that moment that changed Swann’s life forever.

“The teacher, Mrs. Gerretta Wilson, she grabbed me and she hugged me and she whispered in my ear, she said Anthony, everything is going to be alright," he said.

Swann says those words guided him through difficult times ahead during his 12 years in foster care. And later, he ended up back in the classroom--as an instructor.

“What she gave me, I want to be able to give that to children as well, especially having an absent father," Swann said.

Thursday, the Virginia Department of Education recognized Swann’s success--naming him 2021 Virginia Teacher of the Year.

“To be able to hold the top honor in the state, it means everything. My message is: I want to give hope to those children," he said.

“We are absolutely elated here at Rocky Mount Elementary. I think he represents our school so well because we always talk about caring for students and putting them first, and he actually exemplifies that,” Lisa Newell, Principal of Rocky Mount Elementary, said.

Swann, who has been teaching 14 years, is now up for the 2021 National Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced next spring in a White House ceremony.

“Teach for the love of your children. There is a child that is counting on your voice,” Swann said.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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