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Baltimore County's Teacher Of The Year Says She And Her Students Are "Learning Every Day" How to Work Through COVID

John Lee
Baltimore County Teacher of the Year Brianna Ross talks to the media, family and friends while County Executive Johnny Olszewski and Superintendent Darryl Williams look on.

Baltimore County honored its teacher of the year Tuesday.

Brianna Ross, a history teacher at Deer Park Middle Magnet School in Randallstown, said especially this year, teachers need to be a consistent part of students’ lives.

When county officials dropped into her class unexpectedly Tuesday morning to tell her she is teacher of the year, there were nine students in the room. Ross was teaching the others virtually.

“It’s been a balance, but we’re learning every day is a place of growth for us right now,” Ross said.

Ross said during this tough year, it’s important that she be a presence for her students.

“And especially given the context of what our country looks like right now, racially, in a global health pandemic, it’s also been really important for me to help students develop agency and develop some voice around with they’re experiencing what’s happening right now,” Ross said.

After being surprised in her classroom, Ross was taken outside the school to meet with reporters and receive gifts, including a $1,000 check, balloons and flowers. She said being named Teacher of the Year is a huge honor but that she had to get back to the classroom soon to “teach my babies.”

School Superintendent Darryl Williams said Ross shows that great teaching transcends the constraints of a pandemic.

“Brianna Ross represents the very best of the teaching profession: talented, dedicated to her students, and passionate about learning,” Williams said.

Ross has been teaching for six years. She is Deer Park’s Social Studies Department Chair, Equity Liaison, Summer Transition Program Coordinator and has written curriculum.

In her BCPS Teacher of the Year application Ross wrote, “When I began teaching, I was intentional about working specifically in communities of color because I believe that it is critical for our students of color to learn from teachers who share their perspectives, understand their experiences and recognize the need to make an unwavering commitment to their success.”

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2