2011 D.C. Teacher of the Year

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jon Rolle thought about applying to several law schools but he never turned in the applications. He realized being a lawyer wasn't for him and chose to become an educator.

It turned out to be the right choice.

In January, Rolle was named the 2011 D.C. Teacher of the Year by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

"I think I'm pretty much set on being in education forever," said Rolle, 28, a third-grade teacher at Friendship Public Charter School's Southeast Academy.

Rolle, who began his career at the school as an administrator, moved to the classroom and became a teacher about three years ago. He teaches an all-male classroom at the school.

Rolle, who will receive a $3,000 award from the District, is the second teacher from Friendship to win the award. Stephanie Day, a teacher at the school's Chamberlain campus, received the award last year.

Donald Hense, chairman of Friendship Public Charter Schools, said he was "delighted that one of its hardworking, dedicated teachers" had earned the honor two years in a row.

Rolle, a Prince George's County native who graduated with a business degree from North Carolina State University, said he expects his students - whom he refers to as "gentlemen" - to do extremely well despite being surrounded by difficult circumstances.

He said setting high, unwavering expectations is key for students to overcome tough social and economic situations.

"When you walk into a classroom, it should be a classroom of high expectations and high achievements," he said. "I want to build them to a point where they're able to make good decisions. Each of them is capable of achieving what they set their mind to."

Rolle represented the District in the National Teacher of the Year competition in Dallas in January. Rolle was not a finalist for the national award but said the experience was humbling.

The national award began in 1952. Jason Kamras, a math teacher at John Philip Sousa Middle School, was the only District schoolteacher to win the award, in 2005.

"You really have to excel as an educator to achieve this nomination," Rolle said.

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