TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — A Deer Park Middle Magnet history teacher was named Baltimore County Public Schools’ 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Brianna Ross received a surprise visit from BCPS Superintendent Dr. Darryl Williams, Board of Education Chair Makeda Scott, and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski at her classroom Tuesday morning with balloons, flowers and the good news.

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Ross was also surprised by her parents who drove from Pennsylvania to Randallstown, where their only daughter teaches.

Dr. Williams congratulated Ross, who has been teaching for six years.

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

In her sixth year as a teacher, Ross teaches middle school history. She serves as Deer Park’s Social Studies Department Chair, Equity Liaison, and Summer Transition Program Coordinator and has been a BCPS curriculum writer among many roles.

“In a year that has tested every educator not only in Baltimore County but across Maryland and the nation, Ms. Ross shows us that great teaching transcends even the constraints of a pandemic,” said Dr. Williams. “She shows us that great teaching – and great teachers – are among the most powerful forces anywhere and at any time.”

As teacher of the year, Ross received a gift basket from First Financial Federal Credit Union, bouquets of flowers and balloons, and a $1,000 check and flat screen television courtesy of NTA Life, a Horace Mann company, in partnership with The Education Foundation of Baltimore County, Inc.

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Debbie Phelps, executive director of The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools, Inc., which arranged for the gifts, said Ross will receive a variety of additional prizes throughout the school year as a way of honoring the year-round, full-time commitment of teachers across Baltimore County.

Ross and three other finalists – Stephanie Lawrence of Milford Mill Academy, Sheri Metzbower of Carroll Manor Elementary, and Kristine Saja of Sparrows Point High – were among 157 teachers honored by their schools as teachers of the year for 2021.

Ross is a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh, where she received both a bachelor’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

She also earned a certificate in Administration and Supervision from Loyola University of Maryland and is working towards a doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership from Morgan State University.

“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,” Ross wrote in her BCPS Teacher of the Year application.

“In my classroom, I have created a culture that prioritizes building positive relationships and academic rigor above all else. It is my mission to ensure that when each of my students step into my space, they feel that they are part of a community that loves them, values who they are, and will protect them no matter what,” Ross wrote. “In spite of the chaos that has surrounded the last year, ‘stepping’ into my classroom and teaching continues to be a source of joy. If I have learned anything from this pandemic, it is that taking care of my students will always be my first priority.”

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The BCPS Teacher of the Year is selected by a committee of administrators, teachers, students, and BCPS staff. Each BCPS school, program, and center can nominate one teacher for consideration. Ross will be the BCPS representative in the Maryland State Teacher of the Year program.

CBS Baltimore Staff