Rock Ridge High School teacher Jordan Markwood has been named the Region 4 Teacher of the Year.
Assistant State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elizabeth Schultz made the announcement during a surprise assembly Aug. 30 to an auditorium of his fine arts students.
Maggie Miller, 16, a junior at Rock Ridge and one of Markwood’s students, said he is the perfect person for this honor.
“He shows every quality of a leader and a teacher. He always wants what’s best. He’s so selfless and he cares so much about other people and other students. And he didn’t need any of this. He would have been happy just knowing he helped a student,” Miller said.
When Markwood’s name was announced the auditorium erupted in cheers.
Markwood said after the assembly that he was feeling a bit overwhelmed, but was excited and appreciative of all who helped him achieve the award.
“My students are the reason I am here today. They are my motivation for sharing my passion of music. Seeing them engage with it and excel in it is something that is always meaningful to me,” Markwood said.
Other guests at the surprise assembly included Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler, Assistant Superintendent Ashley Ellis, Chief of Staff Daniel Smith, School Board Member Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge), Fine Arts Supervisor Michael Pierson and Music Specialist Elaine Stanford. Speakers included Ziegler and Rock Ridge High School Principal John Duellman.
Additionally, Howard Brewer, the 2022 Region 4 Teacher from Fairfax County, was there to help Markwood celebrate his achievement.
Region 4 encompasses school divisions in the counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahanock, Shenandoah and Warren and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.
Markwood was previously named the 2022 Washington Post Teacher of the Year, after having been named Loudoun County’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. Markwood’s Teacher of the Year nomination package included input from more than 115 people, including 44 LCPS educators, 25 of whom are music educators; nine choral directors from across the region and state; students; parents; families; and 29 individuals from his church and the community.
Markwood earned his degree in music education from Houghton College and holds a degree in vocal pedagogy and performance from Westminster Choir College.
As the school’s Fine Arts Department chair and choral director, Markwood said he was excited to advocate for the arts as the Region 4 Teacher of the Year.
“Sometimes we can be seen as maybe an extra thing that people participate in, but I cannot emphasize enough how important the skills you learn within the fine arts can be, especially returning from online instruction,” Markwood said.
He said coming back and learning how to work so closely with other individuals and learning how to make eye contact and to collaborate with others is helping his students to overcome some of the obstacles from online learning.
“I’ll admit to a certain extent I took what we did for granted, that we were able to come together and make music. And then when the thing you love the most becomes the worst thing to do during the pandemic, being back together and being back together to make music is such a blessing,” said Markwood.
He said he wants his students to never take that for granted again and to always share their gift with others.
Sneha Khandavalli, 17 and a senior at Rock Ridge, said she has been in Markwood’s classes since her freshman year and has really gotten to know him. She said he is her favorite teacher.
“He’s respectful to all the students. He’s also the funniest teacher I’ve ever had. He makes learning so much more fun and engaging with his personality,” said Khandavalli.
Khandavalli also said he has some pretty amazing dad jokes.
Markwood is now of eight finalists for the 2023 Virginia Teacher of the Year Award. The Virginia Teacher of the Year becomes the nominee for the National Teacher of the Year.
The last LCPS educator to be named Region 4 Teacher of the Year was Jennifer Rodgers, a social science teacher at Dominion High School, in 2020. Patricia Herr, of Smart’s Mill Middle School received the honor in 2009. And Loudoun County High School social studies teacher Lee Daniel “Dan” Kent was named Virginia Teacher of the Year for 1997.