In the middle of baking maple bacon cupcakes as her students virtually followed along from their homes on Friday afternoon, Sarah Jurewicz, a chef and teacher at Chesterfield County’s Career and Technical Center at Courthouse, received a surprise recognition.
She was named the Virginia 2021 Region 1 Teacher of the Year.
Thinking she was going to have a conversation about culinary ideas, Jurewicz walked into the technical center’s open common space to find flowers, balloons and her husband, standing among school officials.
Upon hearing the news, Jurewicz buckled at her knees, running over to hug her husband.
“It’s humbling and slightly earth-shattering to think that people looked at my work, and some of my words, and my essays and thought that I had something that jumped out on the page. So I hope that my students get that as well, but it’s exciting to see others get to see a little bit of myself,” Jurewicz said.
Friday’s recognition comes one day shy of exactly four months after Jurewicz was named Chesterfield County Teacher of the Year. School officials surprised Jurewicz at her home in May.
“To be named the best of the best is a tremendous honor for Chef J, given the stiff competition she faced within the county and the region,” Schools Superintendent Merv Daugherty said in a statement.
“Any way you slice it, Chef Jurewicz is creating some really amazing learning experiences and making a difference in the lives of our students and families in such meaningful ways,” Daugherty added.
Jurewicz joined Chesterfield schools in 2005 after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and working locally as a pastry chef after college. She never had any intention of teaching.
Teaching was new but coming to Chesterfield was not new in the slightest, for Jurewicz graduated from the Career and Technical Center at Courthouse and attended James River High School. Since 2005, she had taught at both of these alma maters.
“I’m blessed to be a teacher in a place where I started. It’s really kind of an epic journey, very proud to be part of it.”
When Chesterfield went fully virtual last March, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jurewicz stayed connected with her students by uploading YouTube videos of her baking. Now, six months later, her students are still at home and Jurewicz is doing live baking demos while her students watch, take notes, ask questions and make suggestions on what to bake next.
“I love the fact that they still wake up in the morning with a notepad and pen. And just ready to watch like live television for four straight hours,” Jurewicz said.
Jurewicz is one of the eight Regional Teachers of the Year. She now is in the running for the 2021 Virginia Teacher of the Year.
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