Hometown Mentor: Retired Danville educator credited with saving a life

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 6:02 AM EST
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Most people have that one teacher who made a profound impact on their lives. For Anthony Swann, the 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year, that educator was Jerretta Wilson, a retired Danville teacher who spent 38 years in local schools.

Wilson is the type of person who doesn’t want credit for all the work she has done, and continues to do. So, WDBJ7, along with Swann, decided to surprise her at her Danville home and let her know she was the WDBJ7 Hometown Mentor for the month of December.

“I really wanted to honor you for being my teacher that inspired me to grow up and be somebody,” said Swann.

Wilson and Swann’s history goes back decades to when Swann was in her 4th grade class at Schoolfield Elementary School in Danville. Swann, who grew up in foster care for much of his childhood, credits Mrs. Wilson for not only inspiring him to become a teacher, but also saving his life.

When Swann was in 4th grade, Social Services arrived at Wilson’s classroom to take him to a new home. Before leaving the classroom, she told him it was going to be alright. Those simple, yet meaningful words changed the trajectory of Swann’s life.

“I knew that Anthony would go far, if he had a chance,” Wilson said.

For the next five years, Wilson didn’t give up on Anthony. She drove to homes, asked around in the community and even went to Danville churches searching for Anthony and trying to find out where he had been taken.

After five years, she finally found him, and hasn’t let go since. She has become like family to Swann while helping to inspire the next generation of teachers. It is for these reasons, and so many more, that we are proud to honor Jerretta Wilson as our December Hometown Mentor.

If you have a local teacher, coach or mentor making a difference in your hometown, we’d love to hear about them. Send Josh Birch an email at jbirch@wdbj7.com or submit your nomination here.

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