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Extraordinary teacher: Rebecca Zambrano

BY KERI KELLY

Academy of the Holy Names

Walking into any science room, a student can hope to learn his or her fair share of theories, laws and formulas, but Rebecca Zambrano, chemistry teacher at Academy of the Holy Names, teaches more than just the periodic table. As a breast cancer survivor, Zambrano has found it important to go beyond textbook facts in the classroom.

Citing that sharing knowledge was the reason she decided to become a teacher, Ms. Z, as she is known to her students, has imparted her profound cancer story to all of her students. She says, "I felt that it was my obligation to share that knowledge with my students and for them to understand that if it happened to them or a family member, that they could make it."

Every year on the 100th day of school, Ms. Z arranges to have a small celebration in chemistry class. "We have a lot of food," she chuckles "I make my famous arroz con pollo and I talk to the students about personal things, specifically breast cancer."

Ms. Z dedicates time, away from the chemistry books and lab tables, to explain the details of her journey and how she grew from it. "I think it's really important for students to understand and know that you can challenge yourself and face your fears" she said. 100th day is a touching and inspiring learning experience that teaches the value in a positive mindset and excelling even in the midst of struggle.

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