SUFFOLK, Va. — A big surprise came Jason Bartholomew's way Tuesday morning. Leaders with the Virginia Department of Education named him the Region 2 Teacher of the Year for 2023.
“Oh, it’s a bit overwhelming,” he said after learning about his award.
For the last 10 years, he’s taught economics and personal finance at Nansemond River High School in Suffolk. Though, teaching was not his first career.
“I enlisted in the Navy right out of high school,” he said. “ I did a 21-year career.”
After his military service, he searched for a new career opportunity, one that included his passion of finance.
“I was looking to be a financial advisor, earn my certification for that,” he said. “But then I realized it was too much sales.”
He then learned that The Virginia Department of Education required students to take personal finance to graduate.
“I knew, heck, if everybody’s got to take that class, they’re going to need teachers,” Bartholomew said. “And there was my opening.”
Ever since, he’s left a lasting impact inside and outside of school walls, even becoming the city-wide Teacher of the Year.
He says it’s the close connections with his students that he values the most.
“He’s practical, he’s motivating and he has relationships with everyone around him,” said Virginia State Superintendent Jillian Balow.
“Of course, that’s what caught my attention, our attention as a selection committee.”
“If we can find teachers like Jason Bartholomew, a career switcher,” said Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III.
“We can find individuals that really believe in keeping kids first…that’s what it’s all about.”
This recognition is the first in recent years for the division. Bartholomew will now compete to become Virginia’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.