Teaching with Purpose

Tricia Zeman’s classroom is a tool to build trust and engagement The role our educators play in students’ lives is one that is unforgetta…

Tricia Zeman’s classroom is a tool to build trust and engagement

The role our educators play in students’ lives is one that is unforgettable. When we think back on our school days, most of us have a favorite teacher that made some type of impact in our lives. They taught us to appreciate books, maybe even art, or sparked a love for a specific subject that we’ve turned into a successful career.

It’s often a teacher who touches our lives and leaves an everlasting impact, but it’s so rare that we tell them about the positive role they played in our childhoods. They may get a shout out at graduation or a Starbucks gift card at the end of the year. Those little kudos can not only help make that teacher’s day, but they can also be a reassurance that their efforts and endeavors made an impact. A teacher is someone who has dedicated his or her life to helping our future become a brighter one.

Tricia Zeman, third grade teacher at Sycamore Elementary and Region 6 Teacher of the Year, aims to make an impact in the lives of the children who fill her classroom each year. She has dedicated the last 17 years to educating youth and building meaningful relationships.

“My favorite thing is making an impact on the children – relationships and knowing I made a difference while making school a positive experience for the kids,” Zeman said.



To say Zeman is passionate about education is an understatement. As a mom and educator, Zeman realizes that every student is different. From their abilities to their backgrounds, every child needs something different to be successful. Her energetic, flexible and fun style of teaching is student-centered because she wants to reach the children. As a child herself, Zeman struggled with reading comprehension and was forced to teach herself. Wanting to change this for other kids, Zeman is there for her students to help and support them in whatever they need.

On average, Zeman teaches a class size of 24 students and is known to bust a rhyme (rap) in class to help keep them engaged with the material being taught. Zeman also works to offer up creative solutions, group work, discussions and challenges to keep the students involved. She noted that the children love to lead discussions because it interests them and ultimately keeps them learning.

“I used to be all about the curriculum and standards, but I now realize building trust and relationships helps me teach better,” Zeman explained. “It changes every year. It’s a new challenge, so I’m never bored and always learning.”

Zeman recently was named the Region 6 Teacher of the Year – a position she hopes to use to advocate for state-level instructional changes for teachers and student improvements. She wants to encourage teacher efficacy to empower improvement and to help more teachers to use their experiences and strategies in the classroom.

“I am very honored and blessed,” Zeman said. “It’s a positive affirmation that helped me realize my
impact on the community, and I’m excited to be a part of future changes.”

On top of her daily teaching duties, Zeman is the third grade curriculum leader for Holt Public Schools, where she plans and leads professional development with all grade-level teachers across the district. She serves on several leadership teams and committees that include developing and revising curriculum and designing districtwide assessments. She is a mentor-teacher throughout the district and for the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Education. She is known for providing support to fellow teachers through training, modeling and instructional coaching.

Zeman obtained her bachelor’s degree in childhood development as well as a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from MSU. She earned her master’s degree in education from Walden University. She also is a mom to two boys and a wife of 16 years. Zeman enjoys traveling, spending time with her family at their cottage in northern Michigan, watching her kids play sports, reading and – of course – kickball at recess.


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