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Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Nathan Noparstak Wins the David Zemsky Teacher of The Year Award

Physics Teacher Nathan Noparstak next to his banner

Science Teacher Nathan Noparstak has been named the 2024 Zemsky Teacher of the Year winner. A Niles West Alum, Noparstak has made his mark as a former student and teacher.

Noparstak has gone through a great journey finding his way back to Niles West as an AP Physics teacher. With a degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, he found that typical engineering jobs did not fit his interests. He also worked a few side jobs and most didn’t satisfy him until he recalled a temporary job he had as a summer camp counselor.

“I thought back to a summer job I had when I was in college working at the Sports Camp as a Camp Counselor and I really enjoyed working with kids. I saw that Niles West was in need of substitute teachers, and started working here as a sub. I really enjoyed being back at Niles West and helping students learn. I eventually became a science teaching assistant and began working with some really tremendous science teachers. This is where I found my passion for science education,” Noparstak said.

Sciences can be very challenging, to learn and to teach. However, Noparstak is not one to turn away from a challenge and enjoys every aspect of it.

“The most common response I get when I tell people that I am a physics teacher is that physics was so hard. I agree that physics is very challenging, but it is this challenging aspect of physics that can be so rewarding. I hope that people are able to see my focus on or take away my perspective on positive thinking. I think that it is so easy to fall into the trap of complaining about things that are going wrong around you, or decisions that are being made that you disagree with. I try my best to bring a positive attitude to school and my life every day,” Noparstak said.

Students agree that Noparstak creates a pleasant and welcoming environment in the classroom. Senior Joshua Reginold recalls having Noparstak as his AP Physics teacher junior year.

“I think what I enjoyed most about his class was the fact that it was a really fun class and at the same time, at was also very controlled. He had control of the class but he still made it a lot of fun,” Reginold said.

Even during online learning, Noparstak always brought good spirits to the Zoom classroom. Senior Rylie Lawrence recalls a memory of Noparstak when she had him as a science aid during her freshman-year biology class.

“I remember one day freshman year over Zoom, for Halloween, he dressed up in a chicken costume. Silly things like that contributed to the fun energy he brought to class every day. It’s what helped him connect to students, even over Zoom, and is what made biology class so enjoyable,” Lawrence said.

As the oldest child out of four boys, Noparstak’s teaching skills prospered from a young age. Whether it was teaching his brothers how to play sports or helping them with homework, he always served as another mentor.

“The skill or trait that has been most important in developing my teaching skills is trying my best to be a good older brother. I genuinely wanted them to be successful at what I was teaching them, and I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge or expertise with them. The most rewarding part is seeing how successful my younger brothers are. I have this same sense of pride and joy seeing my students go off to some of the most prestigious colleges in the country and hearing about all the tremendous work they are doing makes all the hard stressful work of a teacher worth it,” Noparstak said.

Completely unexpected, Noparstak was surprised when he found out he was named the 2024 Zemsky Teacher of the Year. He feels grateful and honored to receive such high recognition by Niles West.

“I was a little shy, nervous and embarrassed because I am a quieter person that doesn’t love to be the center of attention. [Winning this award] helps reconfirm that what I am doing in this school is having a positive impact on the students that I interact with, which brings purpose and meaning to my life, which fills me with joy and satisfaction. I have had the honor to teach some extremely bright, talented, and compassionate students who genuinely care about learning. This is what makes teaching physics so fun for me,” Noparstak said.

Congratulations, Mr. Noparstak!


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