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Wausau teacher named 1 of 5 Wisconsin Teachers of the Year

Patty Zemke has taught in the Wausau School District since 1996, according to the district. She currently teaches 6th grade Health Education at John Muir and Horace Mann Middle Schools.
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 8:25 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - A 6th Grade Wausau School District Teacher was named one of five Wisconsin Teachers of the Year Friday.

Patty Zemke has taught in the Wausau School District since 1996, according to the district. She currently teaches 6th grade Health Education at John Muir and Horace Mann Middle Schools.

Friday, Zemke won the Herb Kohl Education Foundational Teacher Fellowship. 100 Wisconsin teachers are “chosen for their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, ability to motivate others and for their leadership and service within and outside the classroom,” according to the website. Fellowship recipients and the fellows’ schools both win $6,000 awards.

Representatives from the Wausau School District, Horace Mann and John Muir Middle Schools came together to celebrate Zemke’s fellowship award, where she was surprised with the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year award virtually.

Zemke credits her students and family for both awards.

“I thank my parents and my students,” Zemke said. “I work really hard for them. And I love them all and I love teaching them. I’m really proud and I can’t wait to share it with them to show them they can set a goal and they can reach it.”

The Teacher of the Year Award also came with a $3,000 grant. Zemke is now in the running to represent Wisconsin for a National Teacher of the Year award.

“I think it would be awesome if I got to represent Wisconsin nationally as teacher of the year,” Zemke explained. “I’d love to have that opportunity and I hope I’m a good candidate.”

If Zemke is named National Teacher of the Year, she could win another $6,000 grant. She says she would use the grant money to buy “unique” furniture for her classroom.

In 2016, Zemke was named Health Education Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Health and Physical Education Association.

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