Zwaschka Receives 2018 SDEA Teacher of Excellence


For Immediate Release 
November 16, 2017 

Zwaschka Receives 2018 SDEA Teacher of Excellence

PIERRE – The South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) has named Spearfish Chemistry Teacher, Jessica Zwaschka, its 2018 SDEA Teacher of Excellence.   Zwaschka will also be nominated for the NEA Foundation’s Awards for Teaching Excellence.  Educators selected for this award have demonstrated outstanding professional practice, association advocacy, community engagement and leadership in professional development.

“Jessica has a true passion for her students and profession.  She shares her love of science and chemistry by creating a classroom that is full of energy and hands on learning.  Jessica doesn’t wait for the students to come to her; she reaches out to them at an early age.  She created Slime Day, which brings together kindergartners and high school juniors to teach that it’s never too early to learn science.  “I am sure she has sparked many future chemists with her creativity,” said SDEA President Mary McCorkle.  “Jessica is caring, creative, dedicated, and a true advocate for her students and the profession she loves.”

Zwaschka was surprised and humbled by the award.  “It was a fun surprise. It’s nice to be recognized for the work we do. I was humbled and excited to receive this award. I have amazing colleagues at Spearfish High School and in our local SEA chapter and anytime we’re recognized for our successes, it’s great for us and the profession as a whole,” wrote Zwaschka. “I enjoy working with my chemistry students and the younger students in my summer science camps. Building relationships and developing a love of science is what’s it’s all about.” 

Zwaschka is a graduate of Wingate University with a degree in biology, chemistry and education.  She has taught 20 of her 26 years at Spearfish High School.  She taught for five years in South Carolina before her family moved to South Dakota.  Zwaschka and her husband, Mark, have two children Alexandra and Zac.

The NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize, reward, and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the association. The awards are jointly presented by the NEA Foundation and the NEA.  Along with a $1,000 grant from SDEA, Zwaschka will receive a trip to the NEA Foundation’s 2019 Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington DC.  Five awardees are selected for The Horace Mann Awards for Teaching Excellence and receive $10,000. The NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence recipient, selected from the five, receives $25,000 cash.


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