Jennylee Spottswood has always enjoyed caring for children.

“Once my twins started kindergarten, I knew I wanted to find something I was passionate about,” she said. “I started working at a preschool in Raleigh and I learned so much from the teachers there. I wanted to be a better teacher, to know what’s developmentally appropriate for children, and the correct way of teaching so I decided to pursue my degree in early childhood education at Johnston Community College.”

Spottswood said she learned the positive impact teachers have on childhood development through her son’s experience with occupational therapy in his pre-K program.

“To see the amount of growth for him while he was there, I just really appreciated how much of a resource the therapists were to me as a parent and is part of what motivated me to go into early childhood education,” she said.

Because of her passion for education and hard work in the classroom, Spottswood was selected JCC’s Academic Excellence Award recipient for 2019. She will officially be recognized at graduation in May.

Nikki Leonard, early childhood education instructor, said Spottswood embodies the true spirit of academic excellence.

“In every class she makes all efforts not only to deepen her own understanding of the concepts and material, but encourages others to do the same,” said Leonard. “Through her discussions in class and in online classes with other students, she challenges them to think deeper and apply what we are learning. She seeks out extra help and guidance when needed and is always willing to help her peers. We are so proud to have Jennylee in our early childhood education program and look forward to hearing what the future has in store for her.”

At 30 years old, Spottswood said she is a more mature student today and as a result takes her studies seriously.

“I’ve found that it’s easier now being 30 years old and coming back to school because I’m passionate about what I’m learning,” Spottswood said. “I know what I want to do, and I’m more motivated because I know what I want to learn.”

“I really like that JCC has the Child Development Center on campus and we are able to observe the faculty involved in the center,” she added. “I also like the small class sizes. The education program really does feel like a family.”

Spottswood is also a member of the National Technical Honor Society. She and her husband Reid live in Clayton with their 7-year-old twins, Caleb and Josie, and 11-year-old son, Eli.