Jennie Merrill

I am an AACPS: Alum, Chesapeake High School | Teacher, Severna Park Elementary School | Parent | 2015 AACPS Teacher of the Year 

My name is Jennie Merrill and I have lived in A.A. County my entire life. I have had the privilege of attending Sunset Elementary, Chesapeake Middle, and Chesapeake High School in Pasadena, and have been a teacher in AACPS since 1999. This past April, I was given the honor of becoming the 2015 Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year.

As I look back on why I am the teacher I am today, I think of one man who truly was an inspiration to all who walked through the doors of Chesapeake High School. His impact on me and who I became is something I am eternally grateful for and something I will never forget.

When I was in ninth grade, I met a teacher named Mr. Donald Collins, who brought English to life in a way that was inspiring and fun. He taught outside of the box with zany Marvel Comic Book characters, impersonations, and Superman costumes. In fact, his license plate even read “Clark Kent.”

Mr. Collins found a way to reach every student. He spent time getting to know me: how I thought, how I felt, and how much I loved taking on challenges. He encouraged me to dive into Shakespeare and made me an editor of our school newspaper. Mr. Collins sparked a passion to teach with me and made me think in ways I did not know I could.

Throughout my four years of high school, Mr. Collins always encouraged me and made time to listen to me when I needed someone, even when he did not have time to spare.  He told me I could do anything I set my mind to and I believed him with my whole heart and soul. He ignited a fire in my belly for teaching that has never extinguished.  It is because of him that I take the time to get to know each and every one of my students, while trying to unlock the gifts inside of them. It is because of him I want to encourage and inspire students the way he encouraged and inspired me.