Kelli Zaranka

2016 A Passion for the Classroom


Kelli Zaranka has a passion for education.

Shortly after moving to Michigan, she found that being a stay-at-home mom left her with some free time. Inspired by her daughter’s first grade teacher, she chose to spend that free time volunteering at their elementary school.

“Working with those kids reminded me that I have only ever wanted to be a teacher,” she said.

Since returning to school to pursue this passion, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA and has worked with numerous elementary school children as part of her program. Some of this work with children included helping fifth grade students create a rain garden in a Detroit Public School and working with children at centers for language arts, mathematics, and science in the Gibralter Public Schools.

“She possesses a disposition and commitment to see out extra service learning opportunities, which leads her to consistently place herself in a position of serving others and learning as much as she can from experiences,” said Christopher Burke, associate professor of science education.

She also helps out her fellow classmates on campus, helping them understand classroom material by sharing her solutions and encouraging her peers.

“She is transferring her own learning of difficult mathematical ideas to methods that can help others learn those same concepts,” said Margaret Rathouz, associate professor of mathematics education. “Her particular strengths are that she is very thoughtful in her work, she analyses and applies what she has learned and she has empathy for other students on their learning journeys.”

This passion for the classroom will continue for Kelli.

“I hope to inspire my future students to become difference makers as well,” she said, “inspire them to work hard, go that extra mile, be true to yourself and follow your dreams.”