My Why - Patricia Zelasko, Fifth Grade Teacher

June 1, 2023

Topic: My Why

For as long as Patricia Zelasko can remember, she wanted to be a teacher. As an alumna of Whitman Elementary and Holmes Middle Schools, Patricia – like many others –  dreamed of coming back to the district that raised her to help the next generation of students. It’s not just meaningful for her… it’s essential. It’s her purpose. “I want to help create good humans. I’m trying to teach my students that they are a big part of the world. Teaching is not merely about books and homework. It’s about much more. It’s about helping them create their own identity while helping others in the process. It’s about overcoming challenges,” said Patricia. She should know. She is a stage 3 cancer survivor and instills in her students the sense of gratitude and purpose that she grew during her illness. 

Patricia earned her associate’s degree from Harper and then her bachelor’s and master’s at Roosevelt University. She is also a National Board Certified educator. She’s been teaching at Kilmer for 23 years and has made an incredible impact at her school. Just like one of her favorite hobbies – gardening – she plants the seeds to produce well-rounded, good citizens. While her role is to prepare students for middle school, she wants them to know they can make an impact. She has guided and taught them about stewardship and in turn, they are serving the community with a variety of initiatives, including participation in “Make a Difference Club,” “Operation Gratitude,” the pop tab collection, “Candy for the Troops” and “Feed My Starving Children,” just to name a few. Through their volunteerism, students learn they are part of something bigger than themselves. And the community is grateful. 

Patricia is grateful for a supportive district administration. She’s grateful for an encouraging principal who allows her to explore unique ideas and teaching methods. She’s grateful for opportunities to teach others. She’s grateful to have a purpose. She’s grateful to work in District 21. 

And we are grateful to have Patricia show our students the meaning of caring for others.