We are entering part 2 of our 3-part series highlighting our Employee Award Winners from 2016/17.

We asked our award winners questions to describe what this awards means to them and what advice would they give to new educators beginning their journey.

For our first interview, we spoke with Lead Learner Award Winner, Jennifer Zanzot.

What’s your title and school location?

Principal, Mission Park Elementary

How many years of teaching?

30 years

What brought you to Salinas City Elementary School District?

I wanted to get experience before applying to the Department of Defense school system. I put down roots quickly, realized that I was lucky to have landed in the Salinas Elementary School District, and never left.

What keeps you motivated and inspired on a dialy basis?

When students greet me with a hug or a smile or a sparkle in their eyes, I’m glad I do what I do.  When I win the battle and help a struggling student de-escalate, or when I help a teacher change their relationship with a difficult student, I’m hopeful that I’m making a difference. 

What does your award mean to you?

I was so touched that my efforts are recognized. I enjoy learning new ways to motivate, teach, and challenge myself and my coworkers, but keeping up with technology and project based learning, and truly preparing students for a world I can barely imagine is difficult. I appreciate the followers who have helped me become a better leader.

What is the most gratifying thing about your job?

What really gratifies me as a Principal is knowing that I can make a difference for many students and families as I support both classified and certificated staff in the very hard work we do each day. I know we can make our schools better for our students if we work together. 

Any advice for new educators?

Know that teaching is hard, but your success and that of your students depends on your ability to build and maintain relationships.