Jennifer Virts, teacher at Northern Garrett High School, has been named the 2018-19 Garrett County Teacher of the Year. Ms. Virts teaches English and Theatre Arts. She has directed over twenty theatrical productions, written and directed several original works, and toured with high school students to local elementary schools to perform theatrically adapted versions of original children’s books written by her creative writing students.
Ms. Virts graduated from Frostburg State University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science. She then completed a Master of Education degree at Loyola University of Chicago in 2007. She started her teaching career at Curie Metro High School in Chicago from 2008 – 2010. She came to Northern High School in August 2010. Jennifer indicated, “I tell my students, school is just a rehearsal for life. As educators, we are the actors, the directors, the writers, and the critics all rolled into one. It’s exhausting, but we have the power to change lives, to change fate, just by doing our jobs.”
Ms. Virts has assisted in creating new curriculum and lessons for Theatre I and II, Journalism, and Creative Writing. She is the co-creator, editor, and director of the “Maddawg Morning Show” at Northern High School utilizing green screen technology and iMovie editing. Jennifer integrates technology into all of her classes, including laptops and iPads, in order to enhance learning and foster creative projects, such as film making. She has been a presenter at several conferences: Common Ground in Ocean City, Maryland, in 2016 and 2017 and TASTE in Frostburg in 2016.
Jennifer stated, “The relationships in a classroom must be built on trust and teamwork. Each day we are learning together, as learning is a two way street, and on that street we must trust each other so that we all cross safely to the other side.”
As Jennifer considers real world applications, she stated, “I have become a sponge to news through radio and TV, and I use that to pull-in current events that I can link to my classes each day. I listen to the news on the way to school and pull-in up to date headlines for Journalism, and for other classes, fun facts that can be used to begin class with our ‘call back question day’. The point is, I learn more about technology and the world around me every day and pass the love of learning about what’s new onto my students in order to bridge that gap between where we come from and where I want them to get to someday.”
Pictured (L-R): John Hummel, Northern High Assistant Principal; Gary Reichenbecher, Northern High Principal; Karen DeVore, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Administration; Jennifer Virts, Teacher of the Year; Barbara Baker, Superintendent of Schools; and Paul Edwards, Director of Secondary Education.
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