The Teacher Feature blog series celebrates our faculty’s passion for education and their joy in the journey of building our students’ futures. In this series, we will get to know these beloved educators. Just like our students and families, our instructors matter here. To learn more, visit our website.
Upper Division English Instructor Susan Zalac always saw her future in business or marketing. Teaching, however, became a surprising and welcomed passion … but not before making it past a few bumps in the road.
Zalac fluctuated between majors in a business, psychology, marketing, and public relations. Finally, she settled on majoring in English, earning her B.A. at the University of South Florida and her M.S. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida International University.
“I didn’t have very good advising in college,” Zalac said. “I just kind of did it all on my own. I wish I had the advising that our students have here at Academy. The guidance that we give them and all the things that we do to support them, it is just invaluable. For me, I was just going through college, I didn’t really know.”
After she graduated, a teaching opportunity came up at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers. She went for it despite not having any background in teaching, and it definitely wasn’t an easy start.
“As a first year teacher, the students just had a field day with me,” Zalac admitted. “I talked to the principal and I said, ‘I don’t think this is for me.’ But he pretty much convinced me to stay.”
Just as Zalac tells her own students, perseverance pays off. Instead of walking away from a teaching career path, she plowed through and eventually earned the respect she deserved.
She joined Academy at the Lakes faculty in 2011. “I like Academy at the Lakes because I am able to have meaningful relationships with the students,” Zalac said, “I really feel that I make a difference.”
Currently, Zalac has several administrative duties as the Department Chair, but also teaches three senior English classes: English II, English IV Honors and AP English Literature and Composition. In addition, she heads the Chess Club and is involved with the Girl Code group. So, what is it that keeps Zalac in the front of the classroom as opposed to the business world? “It’s the students,” said Zalac. “They keep me on my toes and crack me up on a daily basis.”
Teacher Tidbits: Get to Know Mrs. Zalac
Animal: I adore my dog.
Food: Just about anything chocolate!
Villain: Ebenezer Scrooge – fortunately, he figures it out in the end.
Superhero: I love Helen Parr/Elastigirl, who is the mother from The Incredibles. She can do it all!
Finish the Sentence
My favorite subjects in school were math and, of course, English!
When I was in high school, I wanted to open my own business.
I love when my students finally admit that the authors’ intentions really were to have so many levels of symbolism in their stories, and I’m not making it up – when they understand that great literature is a work of art.
I love teaching at Academy at the Lakes because I am able to have meaningful relationships with the students. I really feel that I make a difference.
When I am not at school, I like to spend time with my family.
The best advice anyone ever gave me was that my happiness is dependent on my attitude and not on what others do to me or what life hands me.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
The ability to snap my fingers and have the housework done – including home-cooked meals!
If you could interview anyone, alive or dead, real or fictional, who would you interview and what would your first question be?
Ben Franklin – he was brilliant. I think that I’d ask him if daylight saving time was really necessary.
If you could have any artist (alive or dead) draw a picture of you, who would you choose?
I think I would choose my husband, because he knows me best.
If you could go back in time, where would you go and what would you do?
I would go to Queen Elizabeth I’s court; she was an amazing lady who lived during an incredible time in history. I’m not quite sure what I would do, but I think I’d figure it out once I was there.
We had Ms. Zalac’s students answer one question: What is your favorite thing about your teacher?
These are some of the responses:
To view the Prezi, select “Start Prezi” and then click the arrows to view each image.