Wausau Pilot & Review

A Wausau School District educator is one of five Wisconsin Teachers of the Year finalists, a select group named for their dedication toward students and the profession.

Health education teacher Patty Zemke, who also received a Herb Kohl Fellowship Award, teaches at Horace Mann and John Muir Middle Schools.

“From instilling a lifelong love of learning to inspiring our next generation, teachers play a critical role in the lives of students,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said. “The five educators recognized with this honor are truly committed to their students and have gone to great lengths to support them as learners. I congratulate this group of outstanding educators on being named the 2022 Wisconsin Teachers of the Year.” 

Stanford Taylor notified the educators of their selection as Teachers of the Year in separate virtual meetings last week.

In the fall, the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee will choose one of the five educators to represent Wisconsin in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.

The Wisconsin Teachers of the Year are: 

  • Tarah FedeniaPoplar Creek Elementary School, School District of New Berlin: Fedenia is a speech language pathologist for the district with a decade of experience in education. In addition to her work as a bilingual (Spanish) SLP, Fedenia was previously a staff member at the Friendship House in Milwaukee, a transitional women and children’s shelter, and was an instructor for children living at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission’s Joy House. Her educational philosophy, as noted in her application, is to “provide support to those who need it the most.”
  • Kabby HongVerona Area High School, Verona Area School District: Hong is an English teacher at the high school with 20 years of experience in education. A National Board Certified Teacher, Hong has given several presentations for The New York Times on argumentative writing and boasts awards from Stanford University and the University of Chicago for his effectiveness as a teacher. In his application, Hong defined the term “achievement” as striving to help his students “find their voice and become a better version of themselves.”
  • Anna MillerHarmony Elementary School, School District of Milton: Miller is a speech language pathologist for Pre-K to third grade for the school and has 25 years of experience in education. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller created and donated more than 250 facemasks for those in her community. Among her many contributions, Miller created an innovative play-based preschool speech program for 3-year-olds. In her application, Miller said she measures her work as a SLP by the statement, “All children do well when they can.”
  • Eric MummLancaster High School, Lancaster Community School District: Mumm is a technology and engineering teacher at the high school and has nine years of experience in education. Mumm was previously identified by the DPI as a 2020 Wisconsin Educator of Promise and was invited to the Wisconsin Educator Leadership Rendezvous. He also serves as the National Honor Society advisory for the high school. Mumm said in his application that his goal as a teacher is to “help students develop and retain a diverse and essential toolkit for anything beyond high school, from everyday life skills to college to the workforce.”
  • Patricia ZemkeJohn Muir Middle School and Horace Mann Middle School, Wausau School District: Zemke is a sixth-grade health teacher with 26 years of experience in education. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and serves on the district’s Mental Health and Wellness Parent Advisory team. In her application, Zemke said she aims to create an environment “where students feel safe to share their dreams, a classroom where students develop empathy to learn from and inspire one another, develop grit to keep striving, and where they develop skills that empower them to become their best self.”

The Wisconsin Teachers of the Year are among the 101 educators recognized earlier this year by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation’s Teacher Fellowship Program, which honors and supports teaching excellence and innovation across Wisconsin. The honorees were selected by a diverse committee to represent voices, contexts, and perspectives as educational leaders throughout Wisconsin. The Herb Kohl Educational Foundation will provide a $3,000 personal award to each of those selected.

For more information on the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Program, visit the DPI’s website.