(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser presented Jermar Rountree, a pre-K through eighth grade health and physical education teacher at Center City Public Charter School’s Brightwood campus, with the 2023 DC Teacher of the Year Award. The Mayor was joined by State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant and Center City PCS-Brightwood students and staff to surprise Coach Rountree with the award. The prestigious honor, which comes with a $7,500 prize, is awarded annually to a DC Public School or public charter school teacher who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to student achievement.
“Jermar Rountree – or, as his students call him, Coach Rountree – is an outstanding educator who takes time every day to check in with students and families,” said Mayor Bowser. “He goes above and beyond to build community and equip students with the skills necessary to succeed not just in school but in life, and we can’t wait to cheer for Coach Roundtree as he competes for National Teacher of the Year.”
In addition to being named DC Teacher of the Year, Mr. Rountree is now in the running for the National Teacher of the Year Award, which is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). He will also receive an additional $2,500 to support travel to national conferences, workshops, and other professional development opportunities during his one-year term as 2023 DC Teacher of the Year.
“Coach Rountree is the type of teacher whose passion, ideas, and efforts have helped build a school culture where all feel welcome, seen, and supported,” said State Superintendent Christina Grant. “He devotes his time and talents to positively impact the lives of every child in the building from pre-K to middle school, and he is hyper-focused on making sure every child has the health instruction they need to thrive.”
Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) also awarded $1,500 to three other 2023 DC Teacher of the Year finalists: Alex Clark, a health and physical education teacher at Dunbar High School; Brandyn Marshall Poole, a mathematics teacher at Center City PCS-Trinidad; and Luz Mireya Pelaez Lopez, a pre-K dual language teacher in the Spanish Immersion Program at Marie Reed Elementary School.
Mr. Rountree has been teaching for 16 years, six of which have been at Center City PCS-Brightwood. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Western Connecticut State University and holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Relay Graduate School of Education. Mr. Rountree started his career at the YMCA in Danbury, CT in 2004 working with children of all ages. At the same time, Mr. Rountree started his own physical education business teaching day care personnel on how to deliver safe and fun physical education to their students. In 2012, Mr. Rountree moved to Washington, DC to begin teaching physical education and health at the elementary school level.
“Jermar models character for all stakeholders in our community. He is respectful, patient, and always super positive. He is the type of teacher who understands the importance of building strong relationships with students and their families across all grade levels and works very hard to do so,” said Center City PCS-Brightwood Principal Rachel Tommelleo. “His dedication and passion for doing right by kids each and every day is like no other! Our school is an amazing place to grow and learn because of teachers like Coach Rountree.”
In the Center City network, Mr. Rountree also serves as the District Teacher Lead for the Physical Education and Health Department. Outside of Center City, Mr. Rountree has led the OSSE Physical Education Cadre which evaluates elementary through secondary health curricula and shares that information with physical educators throughout the district.
At Center City PCS-Brightwood, Mr. Rountree teaches not only activities and athletics, but also teaches students about their social, emotional, and mental growth, and thrives on connecting his students with the community. He established in-school, afterschool, and weekend partnerships with organizations to help his students grow in several facets of life. Through his work, Mr. Rountree serves as a voice of the community and has relationships with every student and family that attends Center City PCS-Brightwood.
“Our educators play an important role in ensuring that our students are prepared for lifelong learning, fulfilling careers, and economic security,” said Dr. Michelle Walker-Davis, Executive Director, DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB). “Through his demonstrated excellence and leadership, Jermar Rountree has consistently upheld his commitment to the growth, development, and success of his students, which is why I’m honored to celebrate him as our 2023 DC Teacher of the Year.”
As a health and physical education teacher, Mr. Rountree believes in a holistic approach to education and connects with families not only to support health and physical education, but also to help students develop strong social-emotional, math, reading, and critical thinking skills. Every day at arrival and dismissal, Mr. Rountree checks in with all 150 Center City PCS-Brightwood families to gain insight into their home life and uses that information to help plan lessons and drive student interactions throughout the day.
In the past year, Mr. Rountree created lessons to help students develop healthy eating habits and share information about healthy eating in their community. With a focus on equity, the lesson helped students question why some neighborhoods have healthier options and why it can be more expensive to maintain a healthy diet.
As Club Facilitator and District Teacher Lead for PE and Health of the Center City PCS network, Mr. Rountree plays a large part in strengthening the culture of student athletes and developing extracurricular activities for the school community. He has hosted fitness classes and health-focused events for families, a back-to-school BBQ, a fun run, and a family movie night. Mr. Rountree streamlined Center City PCS-Brightwood’s before- and after-school program, launched a swimming program for middle school students, and organized fun programs such as a fencing club, robotics, and family boot camps.
“Physical health is so important, and something that underserved communities often lack,” said Coach Rountree in his Teacher of the Year application. “...My goal is to elevate this conversation so that DC Public Schools, DC PCSB and other stakeholders can begin the work in making sure physical education and health requirements are met throughout Washington, DC. I am extremely passionate about teaching students all the ways to keep their bodies healthy and providing a plethora of ways that they can do just that. In the future, I am hoping that all educators aspire to do the same.”
For more information on the DC Teacher of the Year program, visit the OSSE website.