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Dr. Joyce Burick Swarzman Awarded State “Teacher’s Teacher” Recognition

As Corbett Preparatory School of IDS’ longest serving Head of School, Dr. Joyce Burick Swarzman established a model of professional development that inspired her own faculty and staff as well as thousands of educators worldwide to strive for excellence and keep students at the center of all they do.

The Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS) honored Dr. Swarzman this month with the 2021 Edgar McCleary Service Award, a special recognition for a “teacher’s teacher” who has given generously of his or her time to further the mission of FCIS schools.

FCIS, the state accrediting organization for independent schools, created the award in 2011 to spotlight educators who go above and beyond in their service. Founded in 1968, Corbett Prep is a private independent International Baccalaureate school that serves 500+ PreK3-8th grade students from all over the Tampa Bay area.

Dr. Barbara Hodges, executive director of FCIS, presented the award via Zoom during the FCIS Annual Convention this month while Dr. Swarzman, Corbett Prep faculty and staff and more than 1,000 guests watched online.

“Corbett is a very, very special place,” said Dr. Hodges. “But it wasn’t just about Corbett.”

Throughout her career, Dr. Swarzman led professional development trainings for more than 20,000 teachers locally, nationally and internationally. She created the research-based M.O.R.E. Model (Multiple Options for Results in Education), specific components and strategies designed to help educators create a brain-friendly learning environment, and she traveled to Spain and China to share those methods with schools worldwide.

Her efforts produced great teachers, many of whom became great heads of school, Hodges said. And together they changed the lives of countless children.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Dr. Swarzman received her Bachelor of Art degree from Ohio State University. She received her Master of Arts in counseling, her Master of Education degree in supervision and curriculum, and her Doctorate in teacher education, all from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. Dr. Swarzman has extensive experience as a classroom teacher, having taught in the inner cities of Chicago, Atlanta and New York. Her story is told in the book It’s All about Kids: Every Child Deserves a Teacher of the Year, published in 2004.

Dr. Swarzman joined Corbett Prep – then Independent Day School – in 1996. A strong leader, energetic teacher and experienced trainer, Dr. Swarzman was the director of the University of South Florida’s Suncoast Area Teacher Training program. She made professional development a priority for IDS/Corbett Prep and hosted conferences in cooperative learning, social-emotional learning and brain-based communication.

In 2020, Corbett Prep welcomed Nicholas Rodriguez as its new Head of School, and Dr. Swarzman turned her focus on supporting initiatives and training. Rodriguez, who has two decades of experience in private and independent schools, honed his leadership skills during a yearlong fellowship with Dr. Swarzman.

Corbett Prep maintains its commitment to the dynamic learning community Dr. Swarzman established. Hodges said she looked forward to the ways Dr. Swarzman will continue to shape the lives of students and their teachers: “She joins the greats of the greats, but she’s not finished yet.”

“You create magic,” Dr. Hodges told Dr. Swarzman.


Originally Published in the December 2021 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

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