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Zeta Iota Sigma
Salutes Teachers

Based on your votes, the 7 Teachers below exemplify these characteristics:

Instills a desire to learn and achieve

Understands the individual needs of students

Encourages student's talents and self-esteem

Fosters relationships with their colleagues and the community

Demonstrates leadership and exemplary passion towards teaching

Motivates students to think imaginatively, critically, and independently

2021 ZIS Salutes Teachers Winners

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Nicoshia Wynn, Relentless Academy

Why is teaching important to you?

Teaching has always been an integral part of my DNA in some form or fashion. Ever since I was young, my parents and grandmother (she was a teacher) pushed me to take education seriously and give back to the community. I have always had a love and passion for youth, arts, education and youth ministry. I grew up in Milwaukee and attended arts schools, a thriving boys and girls club, played basketball, and love music. I moved to Minnesota and have been very active in church and the communities for which I lived. Over the years, I have taken it upon myself to mentor youth, developed youth mentoring programs, supervise youth summer and after school programs, volunteer for programs involving underserved youth, and have coached girls’ basketball camps and high school programs. All of these experiences have created my passion and lifelong commitment to help the next generation. This is especially critical now that we are in a pandemic.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 has put pressure on our education systems and even before COVID-19, youth of color were lagging behind in education, which has resulted in low graduation rates in Minnesota; and for some ethnic groups, Minnesota is last in the country for educational success.

It truly takes a village to minimize the challenges for which our schools, educators, and families face. School districts cannot do it alone. We as the community and educators need to continue to help and stand in the gap no matter how tired we get.

This summer I had the privilege and honor of launching a successful tuition-free S.M.A.R.T. (Science, Math, Art, Reading, Technology) summer program for youth in grades K-12. This program is designed to help youth maintain what they have learned and/or prepare them for the upcoming school year. In addition, we started monthly coding clubs and have partnered with the Girls Who Code organization to provide coding experiences for underserved youth throughout the school year.

My philosophy is that educators are bridge builders and we hold the ability to provide opportunities to unlock the brilliance of youth one student at a time.

If not us, then who? We collectively can continue to change the narrative. Youth need to see people who look like them in the classroom and professionally. Youth should be able to afford and access S.M.A.R.T. (Science, Math, Art, Reading, Technology) programming. Youth should be well positioned to obtain lucrative jobs that sets their family up for future success and wealth.

Teaching is a lifelong journey! I am very committed to ensuring that youth have equal opportunity to be fiscally responsible and S.M.A.R.T. leaders that the world would need for generations to come!

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Denise Fadina, Bright Future Child Care

Why is teaching important to you?

Teaching is most important to me because I get the privilege to be a part of something bigger than myself. As Whitney Houston sings best, the children are our future, and I agree wholeheartedly! Having such an impact on the future of our communities and our society as a whole is not only humbling, but also empowering. Through teaching I can do my part in cultivating the brilliance in each child and ensuring my preschoolers have a bright future!

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Demetria M. Poe, Ph.D Scholar, Legacy of Dr Josie R Johnson Montessori

How would describe your teaching style?

I would describe my teaching style has lit. I have some traditional aspects such as establishing respect amongst one another and respect towards adults. However, I empower my scholars in their voices. A lot of how they feel or are interested in plays a major part in my instruction. I love to teach with music, remixing popular songs or TikToks, and even doing a lot of dancing in my class. It’s naturally things I love and also things they love so we just be vibing and learning. I am pretty laid back but I have stern and high expectations of each of my scholars.

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Michael Brooks, Urban Ventures - Music Teacher

Why is teaching important to me?

Teaching is important because of the difference that teaching has made for me. In the fourth grade, I had a teacher who showed me I was worth it! This experience was life changing. By having someone believe in me and put extra effort into my well-being, I later vowed to treat each student I come across in this same way.

I want every student that I come across to feel special and to know they are worth the extra effort! I take pride in showing up consistently for all of the students I teach.

Although I wear a teacher hat, I consider myself a mentor. My teaching style reflects just that!

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Andre "Debonaire" McNeal, Harrison and Friendship Academy of the Arts

Why is teaching important to me?

Teaching/mentoring is important to me because I believe we have a responsibility to uplift and inspire every single member of the village. One can learn best from those that have same or similar experiences.

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Sean Burns, Prodeo Academy

What piece of advice would you give to a new teacher?

Teaching is not about you; it’s about the students that you instruct everyday. You have to remove personal feelings in order to meet your student where there are; once again it's about them. Also, as a teacher build trust and get to know your students so that you can teach effectively. Lastly, get plenty of rest, plan for self-care and develop a healthy eating habit that will increase your energy.

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Lateshia Roberts, Parents in Community Action - Town Hall

Why did you want become a teacher?

I’m the proud mom of four. My children range in age from 20yrs- 7yrs old. I’m also a licensed foster care parent with Hennepin County. I love teaching, cooking, activities with children and traveling.

I’ve been an educator for over 18 years! I first knew I wanted to become an educator after finding creative cooking activities for children while babysitting. My love to see children grow has blossomed into becoming an infant, toddler and pre-school teacher for organizations that emphasize parent-community partnerships to help children thrive. The joy on kids face when they reach certain milestones are priceless and keeps me returning year after year.

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