CHS teacher named National Computer Science Teacher of the Year
Citrus County Chronicle | By Georgia Sullivan | April 17, 2023
Citrus High School’s very own computer science teacher Jerome “Jerry” Swiatek Jr. has been chosen out of more than 2,800 teachers nationwide for the Project Lead The Way 2022-23 National Computer Science Teacher of the Year award.
“This award ultimately means that my kids have been successful,” said Swiatek at a ceremony at CHS on Tuesday, April 11. “I’m excited about the award, but it really just proves that what we’re doing is working. Our kids are developing into phenomenal young adults and they’re learning valuable skills that they’re going to be able to take onto college and their careers later on. So, that’s really what this accolade means to me, that what we’re doing in this program works, and that’s what is most exciting to me.”
Swiatek has been with the Citrus County School District for 18 years and has been teaching at Citrus High School for 13 years. He was part of the founding team for CHS’s Academy of Computer Science and was the first computer science teacher for the program. Since its founding in 2017, he’s grown the program from about 40 students the first year to well over 200 students across all four grade levels.
Henry Trochez, sophomore, said, “Mr. Swiatek cares for us a lot. He always checks up on us if, for example, we need help on something, before we even ask, he can tell. He’s very thoughtful about others. He doesn’t just care about himself; he cares more about us and our future. He’s very selfless and a man of his word, too. We all love Mr. Swiatek.”
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a national nonprofit that works with students of all grades in all 50 states in computer science, engineering and biomedical science. Every year the program recognizes notable PLTW teachers who inspire, engage and empower their students in their areas.
Dave Dimmett, PLTW president and CEO, presented Swiatek with the award at a ceremony in the CHS media center April 11 to celebrate this great accomplishment.
“In Project Lead The Way, students are solving problems that are real problems that happen in work, in industry, in life. So they start to see those connections,” said Dimmett. “Jerry is that leader here in the community and in the school that helps put all those pieces together. One of the things he’s done that’s really amazing is he’s taken the classroom experience and expanded it into other learning opportunities for students, like with Girls Who Code. He’s constantly thinking about how to connect what happens in the classroom with what happens outside it.”
A crowd of students from Swiatek’s classes gathered in the media center to attend the ceremony honoring their teacher’s achievement, which is a testament to Swiatek’s impact on his students, as pointed out by Dr. Scott Hebert, assistant superintendent.
Addison Leonard, sophomore, said, “I really love his class and I know that everyone else does, too. You can tell that he’s really passionate about what he does and computer science because it shows up in the way he teaches and his lessons.”
Following acceptance of the award, Swiatek said towards his students in attendance, “This is because of the hard work from you. You make my job enjoyable and are why I come to work every single day. I really hope the lessons you are learning now are what you take with you to college and with you the rest of your life.”