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Kim Zeydel Featured in AAE Education Matters
posted by: Cindy Omlin | August 26, 2015, 07:47 PM   

Kim Zeydel, Idaho Teacher of the Year and NWPE member extraordinaire, was recently featured in the Association of American Educators' Education Matters newsletter.  Learn more about Kim with this reposting of the article, "Idaho Teacher of the Year Kim Zeydel Speaks Out."

No one sets an example for teachers the way AAE member and 2015 Idaho Teacher of the Year Kim Zeydel does. In addition to her latest honor, her educational accolades include numerous district teacher awards as well as receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2009. 

Kim focuses not only on helping her students meet their potential, she also works hard to help other educators strive to bring the same honor and professionalism to teaching at the local, state, and national level.  A teacher since 1985, Kim plays an active role in her school and community by contributing as a student teacher mentor.  She also serves as a National Science Foundation panelist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and offers professional development for the Idaho Council of Teachers of Mathematics and State Department of Education. 

Kim epitomizes the AAE mission to elevate the teaching profession.  We’re proud to feature this exceptional educator and share her personal insights. 

What motivates you as an educator?

I am motivated by hearing my students say, “Now the math makes sense. I wish I had you as a teacher a long time ago.”  I’m also motivated when I see students who dropped out of high school come back and graduate. Seeing the look on their faces when they finally realize they have made it is priceless.

What do you like about teaching in your school?

I work with at-risk students in an alternative high school. Since our students have different needs than the regular high school students, we have some freedom to teach to their needs instead of just completing the curriculum. We can adjust and do what we as a school feel will most benefit our students. We take this responsibility very seriously and the students and their families are grateful that their education comes first.

What sets your school district apart?

Because my school district is the largest in Idaho, teachers encounter much more bureaucracy. However, the district encourages teachers to be technology leaders and provides opportunities to collaborate with our colleagues in other districts for professional development. Our district also provides families with many choices as to what type of school they would like their children to attend from foreign language immersion programs, STEM academies, art and music academies, International Baccalaureate programs, dual college and Associate Arts programs for high school students, technology and medical charter schools, and alternative middle and high schools in addition to the traditional public school.

If you have taught in other schools, how is this school different from others you’ve taught in?

I used to teach at a small rural K-12 school in Idaho. Since we were so small, teachers had professional autonomy to make decisions on curriculum and assessments.  Additionally, personal relationships developed between the superintendent, board members, principal, teachers and the community that are difficult to form in a large district. I miss this community connection in my large district. In addition, all teachers, whether they were members of a union or not, had a strong working relationship with the administration and were able to focus on students and teacher working conditions to enhance student education.

What does it mean to you to be chosen as Idaho’s Teacher of the Year?

This is a great honor that I take very seriously. I am now more focused on state educational issues and am trying to be more involved in the legislative process. We need legislation that helps students and teachers. I also want to encourage a positive focus on what teachers do and to support them as they work to perfect their skills as educators. Blaming teachers for everything that is wrong with education will get us nowhere. 

Please describe your primary reasons for joining NWPE-AAE and how membership has personally benefited your career as an educator. 

I have wanted to join for about three years since hearing about Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE), Idaho’s AAE state partner, and what the association stands for. But I kept putting it off. The grant/scholarship grant program finally prompted me to make the commitment to join.  I appreciate how NWPE provides support for teachers, especially new teachers.

In your view, what’s the #1 thing prospective members should know about NWPE-AAE?

I like that NWPE-AAE stays out of politics having nothing to do with education and that the dues are very reasonable.

What is your favorite NWPE-AAE benefit? 

It’s nice to know that I can easily access confidential legal assistance if issues of concern arise in my workplace.  I appreciate that there are no potential conflicts of interest with NWPE’s legal counsel.

How do you feel about NWPE being excluded from district benefit fairs and other school communication forums?

Districts should not limit what information and benefits their teachers can access. Freedom of choice should come first. I have taught in Idaho for 16 years and did not join IEA due to its affiliation with NEA and its politics.  Teachers who don’t find the teachers union a good fit also deserve to have professional protection and support.  NWPE-AAE provides that.  If IEA were such a great organization, it should be able to sign up members without pressuring districts to prevent other organizations from contacting their teachers.


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