Rochester Music Educator Zachary Arenz wins the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year Award

 Rochester Music Educator Zachary Arenz wins the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year AwardIn a resounding acknowledgment of his dedication and transformative impact in the classroom, Zachary Arenz, a music teacher at Flower City School 54 in Rochester, has been bestowed with the prestigious title of the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year. Arenz’s selection not only celebrates his individual achievements but also underscores the collective efforts of educators across the state who work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of their students.

The state Education Department’s recognition of Arenz reflects his unwavering commitment to providing a nurturing learning environment where every student feels seen, heard and affirmed. “Our schools represent a place where everyone deserves the opportunity to be seen, heard, and affirmed in all aspects of learning and teaching. Let us learn from one another on a path toward the brightest future possible,” remarked Arenz.

Teaching in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood, an area marked by high crime and poverty rates, Zachary Arenz confronts the challenges of systemic inequities head-on. He acknowledges the profound impact of these disparities on students’ social-emotional well-being and academic success. “We do have to grapple with the fact that there are schools and communities that have been left behind due to systemic inequities that are directly affecting the students that we’re charged with teaching and caring for every single day,” Arenz emphasized.

The New York State Teacher of the Year’s commitment to uplifting his students goes beyond the classroom. He ensures that his classroom closet is stocked with clean clothes and toiletries for students in need, recognizing that addressing basic needs is essential for effective learning. Additionally, he has learned Spanish to better communicate with students whose first language is not English, exemplifying his dedication to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all learners.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed, as highlighted by LaShara Evans, District Chief of Staff, who emphasized the importance of Arenz’s holistic approach to education. “A kid can’t learn when they’re worried about where their next meal is going to come from, OK. They can’t learn when a day before their house was hit with stray bullets. A kid can’t learn when they saw a loved one being arrested the day before,” Evans remarked.

Furthermore, Arenz’s designation of his school as a grief-sensitive school through a New York Life Foundation initiative demonstrates his commitment to supporting students and families during difficult times. Regent Adrian Hale commended Arenz’s dedication, stating, “As a part of this project, Mr. Arenz provided teachers with education and resources to support students and families and their grieving process.”

Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, praised Arenz’s commitment to students, noting that it reflects the care and passion shared by thousands of teachers in the Rochester City School District.

As the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year, Zachary Arenz now stands as a nominee for the national Teacher of the Year award, further solidifying his position as an exemplary educator dedicated to making a difference in the lives of students and communities.

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