An Olentangy Local School District teacher is closing in on an achievement never before obtained by a Delaware County educator — National Teacher of the Year.

On Thursday, the Council of Chief State School Officers announced that Liberty Tree Elementary School art teacher Jonathan “Mr. J” Juravich has been named one of four finalists for its 2018 National Teacher of the Year award.

According to an OLSD press release, the award is given annually “to the teacher who epitomizes the American teaching profession,” and “the prestigious honor is traditionally presented by the President of the United States in the White House Rose Garden.”

“I could not be more proud of Mr. Juravich,” Olentangy Superintendent Mark Raiff said. “His enthusiasm and passion for teaching, and his commitment to his students, exemplifies what we work at and strive for at Olentangy.”

OLSD Public Information Coordinator Devon Immelt added, “It is a recognition of the passion and commitment to education that our teachers work to exemplify every day. We are extremely proud of Jonathan.”

In September 2017, Juravich became the first OLSD teacher to win the Ohio Teacher of the Year award, which made him eligible for the national award.

The other three finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award are Amy T. Andersen, New Jersey Teacher of the Year; Kara Bell, Department of Defense Education Activity Teacher of the Year; and Mandy Manning, Washington Teacher of the Year.

Nominations for National Teacher of the Year are based on the profiles of Teacher of the Year award winners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. A selection committee consisting of representatives from each of the major education organizations reviews the profiles and selects the finalists.

The winner, who will spend the next year traveling the country to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers and students, is chosen from the finalists based on their biography, interview, and eight essays they must submit.

In a press release, the selection committee states, “These state teachers of the year capture the spirit and passion of America’s teachers. Any one of them would do an outstanding job as the profession’s ambassador.”

According to information contained on the Ohio Department of Education’s website, Juravich is the fifth Ohio educator to be named a National Teacher of the Year award finalist, and this spring when the winner is announced, he will seek to become the third Ohioan to win the award. Jones Junior High School (Upper Arlington) teacher Bruce Brombacher won it in 1982, and Walnut Hills High School (Cincinnati) teacher Sharon M. Draper took home the top honor in 1997.

“As an art teacher, Jonathan goes out of his way to fill his students’ lives with color and joy, pushing them to learn and see the world in new and exciting ways,” said Paolo DeMaria, the state’s superintendent of public instruction. “‘Mr. J’ is a wonderful example of what a great teacher is — he cares about students, helps other teachers, and goes outside the school walls to help the community. To say we’re proud is an understatement.”

Juravich has been teaching in the OLSD since 2005. In addition to his classroom duties, Juravich also serves as the district’s elementary art department chairperson, coaches cross country and track at Hyatts Middle School, and works as an adjunct instructor at Otterbein University.

Reactions flood social media

Following the announcement that Juravich had be selected as a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year award, comments congratulating him began to pop up on social media.

Cindy Kerr, an art education instructor at Ohio Wesleyan University and an arts integration specialist at Delaware City Schools, writes, “We who live in the Olentangy Local Schools district are thrilled. We art educators are doubly delighted!”

The following comments appear on Facebook in response to a post by the school district on Juravich’s accomplishment:

Christine Messerly Zorn, a former assistant preschool teacher at Olentangy, writes, “He is truly deserving of this award. He is a great role model for our kiddos! Way to go Coach J!!”

Jody Achor writes, “So blessed to have had the opportunity to be taught by this amazing teacher. My house is a home because of his influence.”


By Joshua Keeran

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Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.