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SC Whitmore School Names Jason Rowe 2023 Teacher of the Year

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Columbia, SC – SC Whitmore School (SCWS), a statewide online public charter high school, has named Mathematics Teacher, Jason Rowe as its 2023 Teacher of the Year. 

Rowe has always had a passion for helping others and started tutoring in high school. He enjoys looking for ways to help people learn math in a way they best understand.

“After working as a contractor for years after college, my high school calculus teacher spotted me in a restaurant and said, ‘What are you doing?’ You want to be climbing ladders when you’re 50?” So he talked me into getting into teaching,” said Rowe. “I ended up moving to Florida, because it was easier to get into a classroom without having education courses. I spent 5 years in Florida before moving back home. Everyday is an adventure. I still look for that spark that helps students say, “Hey math isn’t bad.”

Rowe graduated from the University of South Carolina where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. He also earned his Master’s degree in Mathematics from Western Governors University and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina.

He began teaching at SC Whitmore School in 2016. Rowe says he enjoys asking the students questions to best understand how to support their education. 

“I like to use questions to help direct a student to the answer,” said Rowe. If the student can arrive at the answer without it being handed to them, it is my belief that they will be able to repeat that later. I also like to show different methods. There are often different ways to arrive at the same result. A student may understand one method better than another. It’s my goal to find a method that helps a student to be successful.” 

Building connections in a virtual environment can be challenging, but it is definitely possible. Rowe said, “Students have to know that you are on their side. I often tell students of my own struggles in math or in a situation similar to what they are experiencing. I want them to be comfortable reaching out to me for help. Many of our students have had a negative experience at their previous school. They are often fearful that nothing is different here. I have to bridge across that wall they create and let them know that I am here to help them be successful.

I try to keep in contact through various forms of communication, including personalized video messages, text messages, and emails. A little encouragement is all it takes to tear down a wall that has been built and fortified for years.”

“Jason is such an amazing teacher. His commitment to educating our students, in one of the most difficult subjects, is truly inspiring,” said Eboné Adams SC Whitmore School Principal. “His passion for the subject and his ability to work with our students in the most engaging way has a profound impact on our students. Jason has always been keen on understanding his students’ learning style to create a more personalized approach to help meet their goals and needs. We are lucky to have Jason on our team. He is definitely deserving of this recognition.”

Education is constantly evolving. Rowe has great advice for educators.

Understand that times change, pedagogy changes, your co-workers may change, and technology changes,” said Rowe. “You have to adapt to those changes and be willing to try something new. You can’t expect everything that worked a decade ago to work today. But you must also look at every resource you have to find ways to meet the needs of your students. Data is important, but relationships are important as well. Qualitative characteristics can’t always be quantified and it is your charge to find the balance between the two.”

Rowe shares that finding balance is important, “Virtual school teachers have to find a balance between work and school. Sometimes the two mix so much that you fail to see where one ends and the other begins. Take advantage of the freedom you have to set your own schedule. Don’t neglect the most important thing, family. Find your routine, but be flexible enough to adapt to changes. 

“We are lucky to have Jason Rowe as our Math Department Chair,” said SCWS Executive Director Kim Dunbar. “He is so passionate about teaching math and connecting with students. He is always willing to try new resources and platforms to ensure students are “getting it”. Jason always goes above and beyond to make sure his students receive the best support and education. His students love working with him and receiving encouragement to improve their skills. He more than deserves this prestigious recognition.“

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