Anthony Serafini Wins David L. Zemsky Teacher of the Year Award

Mr. Anthony Serafini winning the David L. Zemsky Teacher of the Year Award.

By Razina Ahmed, Academics Editor

Some may know him as a Titanic expert, while others may know him for his award-winning teaching. Mr. Anthony Serafini, science teacher at Niles West, was recently awarded the David L. Zemsky 2021 Teacher of the Year Award. He has taught Biology for the last twenty years at Niles West and has also taught Science Topics, Research Topics, Integrated Lab Science and Exploratory Chemistry, and Physics.

“I was completely blown away when I received the news that I was being named “Teacher of the Year.” It is something I never expected to be awarded. It means even more to me because it is something which comes from the students,” Serafini said. “I know I am doing a good job teaching my students when I talk to them. It is important for me to connect with my students on a personal level. I deeply care about the students in my classes and I feel like when they know that they will be more successful. Teaching my students science is important, but I want to make sure they are successful students as they move beyond my class at Niles West and beyond.”

An avid science lover, Mr. Serafini’s inspiration to start teaching science came from his high school teachers who taught him the value of not only an educational experience but the growth of the individual student.

“I had a Physics teacher, Doc I., who would do awesome demonstrations. He was very engaging and made learning science interesting. Mr. Mitchell, Ms. B, and Mrs. Spears were other teachers who took the time to make a personal connection with students when I was in high school,” Serafini said. “I often tell my students I went to college to major in business and come out with a science teaching degree. I am glad things have worked out the way they have as I cannot see myself doing anything else, except maybe playing basketball in the NBA.”

Mr. Serafini has left a lasting impression on many of his students, including sophomore Romisa Saleem, who had Mr. Serafini for her freshman year biology class and nominated him for the award.

“I nominated Mr. Serafini because he has always been there for me. It’s been two years since I was in his class but he still checks up on me and makes sure I am doing good. During lockdown he often checked up on me, provided support, and made the effort to make sure I am well,” Saleem said. “Even when I was in his class he made sure we were all doing good in class and if we ever struggled he took time out of his day to help. Overall he is a great teacher and a great friend!”

Sophomore Samuel Lee, another student who nominated him, shared some insight into his experience in Mr. Serafini’s class.

“The most significant difference between Mr. Serafini’s class and other classes is that he is able to make every day a unique experience. Mr. Serafini’s energy and enthusiasm to teach wakes me up every day since I had him for my first period. He makes even the most boring days exciting just because he is so creative and passionate about teaching,” Lee said. “Mr. Serafini’s authenticity and love for teaching inspired me and a class that inspires has such a big impact on a student.”

Mr. Serafini’s passions are not limited to teaching. As a Titanic expert and member of the non-profit organization Titanic International, he has worked with experts and completed extensive research about the Sinking of the RMS Titanic that took place in the early 1900s. He also enjoys spending time with his family and taking road trips.

“My wife Kim does a good job letting me be the crazy dad and teacher I love to be. We all spend a lot of time together outside going on bike rides, hikes, camping, and exploring nature. We do several road trips each summer and explore as much of the United States as we can,” Serafini said.

The Science Department at Niles West surprised Mr. Serafini with the award on April 20th in the South Lobby. Mr. Serafini thought he was attending a meeting but was instead surprised with cheers and a celebration from fellow administrators, teachers, and staff.

“The science department at Niles West is full of amazing teachers and staff who all could easily have won “Teacher of the Year.” Most of the people I work with on a daily basis are selfless and will gladly take time to answer a question,” Serafini said. “My department is my second family and I love coming into work each day to see them. The students at Niles West are lucky to have such dedicated staff who help them learn to become better students.”