Name: Emily Zelazny
School you teach at: Dos Rios Elementary
Grade/Subject you teach: 4th, all subjects
City you live in: Phoenix, AZ
Why did you become an educator?
Although I went to school for teaching, I was unsure I wanted to be an educator until last spring when I student taught in a fourth-grade class. Every morning, I would go around the room and play games with the students before class began. Initially, this was a way for me to feel more comfortable in the classroom as it was a new experience for me and I was nervous to teach in front of twenty-five kids, but as weeks passed, I suddenly learned that I was creating bonds with the students without even trying. I found myself caring for students and worrying about them and exhibiting all sorts of emotions that I didn’t know would accompany the profession, all because I created strong relationships with the students. There was one student in particular who had a lasting impact on me. He had some trouble controlling emotions, maintaining friendships, and doing what was expected in class. He and I ended up eating lunch together, playing at recess, and having wonderfully in depth conversations about Minecraft. By the end of my semester, he seemed like a whole new student. He was following class expectations and had a strong group of friends. It was hard to say goodbye when my time was over, as I had not realized what an impact the students have on the teacher. It is a feeling like no other, to know that you helped a child not only academically, but also emotionally. Luckily, this past fall break I went back to Missoula and visited Russell Elementary. I received the biggest hug from this particular (now) fifth grader. I knew after student teaching that this was the career path for me. I swear, your heart grows one hundred times its size when you are a teacher!
What is the best part of your job?
The best part about teaching is being a friend to the students. I love saying “Good Morning!” as they walk in and to hear all about their previous night or weekend. I have many students who come from very difficult backgrounds and to hear what they have gone through at their young age is shocking. I am always in awe to see all that they have accomplished and the growth they exhibit daily. I am so proud of each and every one of them!
What/who inspires and motivates you?
As cliché as it sounds, the kids in my class both motivate and inspire me. Knowing what they can accomplish despite their circumstances never ceases to amaze me.
What do you consider your biggest professional accomplishment?
I am only in my first year, but I feel my biggest accomplishment is watching my students improve on their reading. It’s incredible to see how much they’ve grown in just a few months!
If I could have one superpower while teaching it would be…
When I’m not teaching, I am…
catching up on some much needed Netflix.
My biggest dream for the youth of America is…
that they have a school where they feel safe with committed educators there to help them succeed. Despite their circumstances, I hope they know they are capable of success.
Book: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Movie or TV Show: Bridesmaids
Musician/Band: Harry Styles
Escape: Going to the gym
Guilty Pleasure: Sleeping in or buying Mochi (expensive but my top favorite dessert of all time)
Time of Day: Evenings (5:00pmish)
Local restaurant: Federal Pizza
Thing about Arizona: The sunsets and sunrises here are BREATHTAKING!
Quote: “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”