NYSUT Communications |
Saturday May 04 2024 11:27 AM

Zachary Arenz, 2024 New York State Teacher of The Year

Rochester Teachers Association member Zachary Arenz, the 2024 New York State Teacher of the Year received a standing ovation from delegates Saturday during the convention.

A music teacher at Flower City School Number 54, Arenz was honored by the state Board of Regents for his exceptional “ability to engage with students and inspire and ignite a passion for lifelong learning through music,” and is praised by peers and administrators for his “immeasurable” impact on both his school and community through his emphasis on restorative practices.

He leads the school’s growth in this area and facilitates school-wide assemblies to nurture those relationships. Beyond traditional courses, Arenz has built a music enrichment program – using grant money he was awarded – for students who are experiencing grief. His classroom includes a closet full of clean clothes and toiletries his students can access if they need.

Over the years, his classroom has become known by students and colleagues alike as a safe place where children can go when they need to talk, manage emotions or just take a break in a judgement-free zone. He’s known for conducting daily check-ins with students as he welcomes them off the bus each morning before they start their school day. Arenz boils down his teaching philosophy to “establishing places where folks feel safe, communication is encouraged and anyone is welcome to express their truest self.”