Fourth grade teacher Lauren Zadernak was voted 2017-2018 teacher of the year for Robinson Elementary school by her peers this past spring.
When she found out that she had been granted the honor she didn’t know what to think, as she has only been teaching for four years.
“I was shocked that I was selected as teacher of the year,” said the 26-year-old. “I hadn’t been teaching for very long and felt there were other teachers more deserving than I. I am just grateful to work with others who value the work I put in with these kids. They are truly my family away from home.”
Zadernak became a teacher because teaching was always a natural thing for her to do. Whether that was playing “school” as a child or helping to teach swimming lessons as a lifeguard during the summers of her teenage years, she always found a way to teach.
“Throughout school in college I had a few different jobs, I hated all of them,” Zadernak said. “I found no value in trying to convince people to purchase items they didn’t need, then it occurred to me that I would be a great salesperson if the item I was selling was a necessity. As a teacher you become a salesperson, it is our job to show the children that the subjects they are learning are crucial to their survival as an adult.”
Zadernak went to the University of North Georgia to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education, even though when she first started college she wanted to study chemistry. Later on she realized that she did not have a passion for that subject and switched to high school history.
“I had an amazing professor who showed me her passion for teaching, I knew that I wanted to find that same motivation for my career,” Zadernak said. “I studied history for a year and then I began my education courses. I began student teaching at Lumpkin Elementary School and I fell in love with teaching children and now I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
When she isn’t teaching, Zadernak enjoys spending time with her friends and family.
One important person in her family is her father, also an educator, who inspires her every day to always do her best.
“He taught me the value of making personal time and not getting too caught up in work,” Zadernak said. “My life motto is ‘Work hard to play hard.’ If I do my best every day, I deserve to enjoy my down time. Since he was an educator and an administrator, I continue go to him for advice about teaching. He has helped guide me to the educator I am today.”
For anyone thinking about becoming a teacher, Zadernak advises them to go into the profession with an open heart and open mind.
“Teaching is a lifestyle and if you are not willing to put in the sweat and tears, do not become a teacher,” she said. “Teachers do so much more than meets the eye, we have to know our students on a deeper level to guide them to success.”