Students surround Schmidt to celebrate her.

Tina Schmidt Receives David Zemsky Faculty Recognition Award

May 15, 2023

Science teacher Tina Schmidt has been announced as the winner of this year’s David L. Zemsky Teacher of the Year award. Schmidt, who teaches regular and honors anatomy and physiology, has worked at Niles West for 14 years. She has also taught biology and health careers classes in her past years here.

The Zemsky Award is presented to one deserving teacher each year based on student nominations. Schmidt was selected amongst the 46 nominees as the winner and the award will formally be presented to her on Wednesday, May 17.

As for her feelings about receiving the award, Schmidt was overwhelmed with honor and surprise. “I told my students that it was more of an honor that it came from them because they’re such an amazing group of kids. Their impact on me was so great that it meant so much coming from them,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt cherishes her experiences and strong connections with her students.

“My favorite part is being able to interact with so many different types of people and learning about their differences. I feel like they probably teach me a whole lot more than I teach them,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt inspires all of her students to work hard, including senior Alina Andrews, who is in Schmidt’s anatomy and physiology class, and nominated her for the award. “Mrs. Schmidt is always pushing us to become better young adults. She gives the best advice and is our number one supporter. She cares about our education and always pushes us,” Andrews said.

Senior Maja Applequist is another student who nominated her. “Mrs. Schmidt deserves this award because of the time she takes to learn about each of her students as people and not just students. She takes time to get to know us personally by learning about what we are involved in and what we enjoy doing outside of school. She understands that we are human, that we are busy and that we make mistakes. However, she believes it is important to push us to work hard in school each day to reach our full potential. I look forward to going to her class each day because of the community environment she has built in the room. Everyone in the class is able to work together with ease, and it is a very supportive learning environment,” Applequist said.

Many students also love the uplifting and supportive energy she brings to the classroom on a daily basis. Mrs. Schmidt goes beyond simply teaching students, she is truly an incredible being. Mrs. Schmidt assures her students understand the material through supporting every single step of our learning process. She encourages going to see her outside of class for extra support, understanding the importance of independence, and makes sure we feel supported either way. Mrs. Schmidt celebrates all of the accomplishments of our classmates- academic achievements, sports recognitions – she is our biggest supporter. You can feel like love she has, not only her profession, but even more for her students. She highlights our hard work as individuals, leading us to feeling uplifted for being recognized,” senior Naomi Catalla said.

Other teachers in the Science Department appreciate everything Schmidt has done to make Niles West great. “Mrs. Schmidt is a wonderful teacher. I know that she really cares about her students and she puts in a lot of work preparing for her classes and trying to make the class interesting. She has high expectations and anyone who comes out of her class is going to do well,” science instructor Julia Komrska said.

Along with the Science Department, other teachers view Schmidt as an inspiration. “I have the privilege of eating lunch with Mrs. Schmidt every day this school year.  It is no surprise to me she was voted to be the Zemsky teacher of the year.  She clearly embodies all that is great about teaching.  Her passion for science and human connection that she brings into her teaching and relationships with her students makes me wish I could be in her class.  Being a great teacher always starts with being a great person, and she clearly has that down,” math instructor Daniel Larrabee said. 

Overall, there is no doubt that Schmidt has made a profound impact at Niles West.

“She has created an environment for her students to thrive and engage, simply with her persona as a human. She encourages mistakes as our way to learn from each other and grow together. She is amazing at what she does and continues to maintain such a great connection with each and every one of her students. I am genuinely so blessed to have come across such a phenomenal teacher as Mrs. Schmidt unconditionally is,” Catalla said. 



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