Since 1984, South students have nominated the teacher who has made the most impact on their high school lives for the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award. This year, Danny Zapler, Social Studies Teacher and Girls Track and Field Coach, is the recipient, Interim Principal Dr. Rosanne Williamson said.
To be named the Distinguished Teacher of the Year, one must fit all 12 requirements of the award, including participating in worthy student and community affairs while contributing to the improvement of South, as stated by the GBS Parent Association Distinguished Teacher Nomination Form.
The selection committee consisted of Williamson, two students from Student Council, adults from the Glenbrook South Parents Association, and David Kane, Social Studies Teacher and last year’s Distinguished Teacher. The selection process included going through the student votes, discussing the candidates, and voting on the recipient, senior Tomoki Imura, Student Body President, said. In addition to excelling in their position, a teacher can only be eligible for the award after working at South for ten years.
Zapler was very excited to recieve the award, although he finds some irony in the situation as he deems himself not the type of person who enjoys the kind of attention that the award entails, he recognizes the importance of the award. He said teaching can leave a positive impact on his students and make them better people.
“I hope that every student I have [has] realized that after being in class [that] there’s so much more to life and themselves,” Zapler said. Since teachers can only be chosen once for this award, it is a life-long recognition of terrific teaching. Recipients of the Award impact classrooms of students not only academically, but by making personal connections, Bryan Cope, Math Teacher and 2017 Distinguished Teacher, acknowledged.
“I think [a distinguished teacher is] someone that combines knowing and loving their content, while at the same time, showing kids that they care about them and can sometimes subordinate the content to the relationship with the kids,” Cope said.
The nomination form was emailed to South students who were asked about the teaching style and influence of their nominated teacher, Williamson explained.
“The nomination form asks students to [share] unique things about the teacher, how the teacher has made an impact on their life and other students,” Williamson said. “It’s designed to honor a teacher who’s been at South for a period of time who’s really [impacted] kids.”
After receiving the award, Zapler will serve on the committee for next year’s selection, Cope explained.
“You get to be part of the [selection] committee, to be part of the process,” Cope said. “It was really cool to see how many teachers in this building kids think highly of. There’s a lot of great teachers here.”
Furthermore, the Distinguished Teacher will also participate in the Homecoming parade and speak at the National Honor Society Induction ceremony, Cope added.
Even though there is only one recipient, nominees are able to read their students’ nominations. Letting teachers know about the contents of their nominations make up an important part of the nomination process, Cope explained.
“My encouragement would be [to] take the time to write a paragraph for the person who has made the biggest impact on your life at GBS,” Cope said. “I think even if the person you nominate doesn’t end up winning, it’s a meaningful process anyway.”
For Zappler, winning is an honor. He described receiving the award as a mix of emotions and feels honored to be recognized for his work in his career as a teacher.
“Everybody has or will have something that they do in their life, and while they do they’re the best version of themselves,” Zapler said, “While I’m teaching, it’s me being the best version of myself.”