Maumee native wins national teaching award - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Maumee native wins national teaching award

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Kelly Zunkiewicz Kelly Zunkiewicz
(Toledo News Now) -

A Maumee native is getting national attention for her work as a teacher in Florida.

Kelly Zunkiewicz has received the $25,000 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice from The New Teacher Project.

Zunkiewicz teaches AP Calculus and Pre-Calculus Honors at Lennard High School in Hillsborough County, FL. She's also a math coach there.

The Fishman Prize is an annual award for teachers working in high-poverty public schools. It was awarded to Zunkiewicz and three other teachers across the country. More than 820 teachers submitted applications to the award. It's no easy task to win: 21 semi-finalists were selected and then observed at work in the classroom, and finalists were interviewed before a panel of judges.

"Kelly is masterful at diagnosing student understanding through formal and informal checks, and she asks excellent questions while never giving away an answer," said The New Teacher Project representative who observed Zunkiewicz in her classroom. "It's clear she always knows what her students know and don't know, and she focuses her lessons on pushing for full understanding."

Zunkiewicz has raised the exam passing rate in her AP Calculus class from 11 percent to 80 percent in the last year. She has also increased the number of female students in the class.

According to The New Teacher Project, Zunkiewicz is dedicated to improving her teaching methods. She visits other schools in the area to develop new strategies, and uses student surveys and discussions to reach decisions. She has also been named Teacher of the Year at Lennard High School.

"Students are absolutely amazing and they have so much to say, and I don't think we give them enough credit," Zunkiewicz said. "That's one thing I want to do with this Fishman Prize is to really honor my students and to make them proud, and for them to know how hard I work. I'm always learning and looking for something new. That's such a big part of life - to be a life-long learner. For them to experience that and see that and be proud, it's really been a great part of this experience."

In addition to receiving $25,000 for the Fishman Prize, Zunkiewicz and the other winners will participate in a six-week summer residency at The New Teacher Project. They'll meet education leaders and collaborate on improving their teaching and sharing their knowledge. 

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