Each year, the University of Chicago gives newly admitted students the opportunity to recognize the educators who have made a difference in their lives. Earlier this month, Westfield High School mathematics teacher Zorana Culjak learned that she had been nominated by a former student for the university’s “Outstanding Educator Award.”
“I’m speechless. I’m still problem-solving,” said the math teacher when surprised by the announcement.
Culjak was recognized by the Board of Education at its Sept. 25 meeting. Board President Gretchan Ohlig presented the teacher a congratulatory certificate along with the UChicago award itself which, in the university’s words, “highlights the stories that show education’s power to transform.”
“I am very much honored and humbled to be standing here in front of you to receive this special award,” Culjak said to those gathered at the board meeting which included members of her family.
“Ms. Culjak strives to create a learning environment that inspires her students to learn and develop a passion for mathematics,” says K-12 Supervisor of Mathematics Elizabeth Delasandro. “Her thoughtful lessons, enthusiasm and involvement in the high school community are just a few of the ways in which Ms. Culjak is devoted to her students.”
“We congratulate Ms. Culjak in receiving such a special and prestigious award from the University of Chicago,” adds Westfield High School principal Dr. Derrick Nelson. “To have her hard work recognized by her former students is a testament to the dedication she brings to WHS every day.”
In nominating Ms. Culjak, her former student praised her as “a great teacher and an amazing person,” adding “I consider myself lucky to have had a teacher who cares about her students as much as you do.”