UW-Madison alumnus Brent Zinkel was recently named Wisconsin’s High School Teacher of the Year.
Zinkel earned his undergraduate degree from UW-Madison in history in 2002 and then received his secondary teaching certification through the School of Education in the fall of 2004. Zinkel is now a history teacher at Wausau East High School.
Zinkel will receive $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, a co-sponsor of the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year program. The program aims to highlight the many contributions educators make to their students, schools and communities.
A news release from the Department of Public Education said Zinkel inspires a love of learning for his students through his boundless enthusiasm for history. Zinkel shows students how to learn through exploring answers to open-ended questions, reconciling opposing viewpoints and examining ethical dilemmas.
“Teaching is a career for optimists. People who see the potential in each student and meet challenges with innovative solutions that improve the lives and education of our kids,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said in the news release. “A Teacher of the Year recipient inspires the young people in their classroom and their colleagues in the school and community. It is an honor to recognize educators who do so much for Wisconsin’s public schools.”
Zinkel teaches U.S. History I and II, and International Baccalaureate (IB) History I, as well as serving on various school committees working on improving educational outcomes for students. Some of the programs and activities Zinkel has developed include supporting struggling students through vocabulary building activities and content-reading strategies, Hmong Parent Night as an effort to increase parental participation in their children's education, and a U.S. History curriculum for Hmong students learning English.
Zinkel also coaches several sports teams, including cross country and swimming, and stays active in the Wausau community by volunteering and acting as a liaison to provide IB students with civic engagement and leadership opportunities.
“My volunteering and community engagement is an extension of my passion for making Wausau a vibrant and appealing destination to live, work and play,” Zinkel said in the news release.