June 15, 2014
Zack Kroll found his calling in life through Teach for America and is getting even more hands-on experience as he pursues his master’s in the College of Education.
Master of Arts in Teaching in math education
Gifted In-Field Endorsement
University highlights, achievements and awards:
I spent the summers growing up working as a camp counselor at YMCA Camp High Harbour. This is where I first developed a passion for working with kids. I never thought that it would be a major building block for my future profession.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia I majored in economics in the Terry College of Business. I was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, where I was on the executive board as house manager and philanthropy chairman. I also served as president and vice president of the Greeks Going Green organization. Finally, I was chosen to become a member of Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honors Society and Order of Omega Greek Honor Society.
In fall 2010 (my senior year), I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Seville, Spain. Besides learning about the culture, history and art in the classroom, I traveled around the country and experienced it firsthand. My art history professor in Seville and I had numerous discussions about career paths and life goals. It was those discussions that led me toward what would become my lifelong profession: education.
Right before I returned to Athens to finish my undergraduate career, I decided to apply to Teach for America. I had my interviews in the spring and was accepted to start teaching that fall. I moved to Mississippi in the summer of 2011, where I taught high school mathematics and coached track for two years in Holmes County, the eighth poorest county in the country. There were times when I didn’t know how I was going to survive the rest of the day, let alone two years. Having to teach six classes each day for two years with no prior experience taught me how to be resilient and persevere even when I might not believe it is possible to continue going.
Even though Teach for America was the greatest challenge I have ever had, I knew that I had found my calling. After TFA, I moved back to Athens and began working toward my MAT in math education. In addition to being a full-time graduate student, I was selected to be a teacher resident in the Teach to Learn program, a partnership between UGA and Clarke County School District in which graduate students in math and science education teach part time in middle or high schools for an entire school year. This program pairs up each graduate student with a veteran teacher, who co-plans and co-teaches the classes. I spent this school year teaching sixth- to eighth-grade math at Clarke Middle School. After school, I coached the Clarke Middle boys’ soccer team this spring.
I also currently serve as an alumni adviser for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity here at UGA and am on the YMCA Camp High Harbour Alumni Board.
Roswell High School
I am a teacher resident at Clarke Middle School in the Teach to Learn program. At Clarke Middle School, I taught sixth- to eighth-grade math. In addition to teaching math, I coached the Clarke Middle boys’ soccer team.
Family Ties to UGA:
I am the first person in my family to attend and graduate from the University of Georgia. Both my sisters have followed in my footsteps and currently attend UGA. One sister is majoring in psychology and wants to become a nurse, while my other sister is pursuing a degree in early childhood education. Now that I have returned for graduate school, my mother is so happy because all three of her children are in Athens.
I chose to attend UGA because...
After spending two years teaching in a small, rural town in Mississippi, I realized how much I missed my family and friends in Georgia. I decided to get my master’s degree from the UGA College of Education because of the college’s strong reputation and my love for Georgia.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
… tailgating before football games and of course watching the Dawgs play in Sanford Stadium. In addition, I enjoy spending time with my brothers at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house where I serve as an alumni adviser.
When I have free time, I like...
… to hike, bike, watch great television, read, root for all of the Atlanta sports teams, go to Terrapin and spend time with my family and friends. In the summers, I now volunteer at YMCA Camp High Harbour, where I serve as a member of the Alumni Board.
The craziest thing I've done is...
… travel through Morocco with no plan. While I was studying abroad in Seville, two friends of mine and I decided to fly to Marrakech, Morocco, and try to make our way back to Spain. We had a flight into Marrakech and a reservation for two nights at a hostel, but nothing else. We spent the next five days navigating our way to and around Marrakech, Fez, Chefchaouen and Tangier on the way home to Seville.
My favorite place to study is...
… in an empty classroom on campus after hours with friends. It might sound odd, but studying with others motivates me to work harder. I also enjoy collaborating with my peers and talking through the concepts that some of us might struggle with.
My favorite professor is...
… Ryan Smith. When I was an undergraduate student, there were several professors who had an impact on me as a person and as a student. Since I returned for my master’s degree there has been one professor who I have bonded with on a totally different level, though. I took his class last fall and really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. He allowed us to speak our minds without consequences and it was during this class that I first began to build a strong relationship with him. Besides being a great professor, Dr. Smith serves as my academic adviser as well as the faculty adviser to the Teach to Learn program. Anytime I am struggling in a course or having a tough day teaching I know I can call or email him for guidance. He never forgets the struggles that we go through as students and as early career teachers. His straightforward feedback and realistic expectations are something that I sincerely appreciate.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
… Bill Gates. He became the wealthiest man in the world through Microsoft, but has reinvented himself as one of the most influential philanthropists in the world. I have so much respect for him and his wife because they have decided to give away billions of dollars for the betterment of education and medical exploration. Gates is a beacon of light and the greatest example of how the wealthiest global citizens should utilize their assets.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
… start a nonprofit organization with my father designed to provide schools in less fortunate areas with athletic equipment donated from wealthier schools. I was privileged enough to attend a public high school where funding was never in doubt. However, after I spent two years coaching in a rural Mississippi high school, I realized that not every school has the same resources. This nonprofit would take used sports equipment and jerseys and donate them to schools that are unable to afford to buy their own gear.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
… travel. I have been privileged through study abroad and other means to visit many of the most amazing cities in Europe. Unfortunately, there are still so many places around the world that I desire to travel to. I have always wanted to travel to Australia, so I think that it would be first on the list of places to visit.
After graduation, I plan to...
… continue teaching math and coaching soccer. Eventually, I would like to become a high school or middle school principal.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
… watching my students present their speeches at Clarke Middle School’s eighth-grade honors day. Although this is not exactly a UGA experience, it is through a collaborative effort between UGA and Clarke County School District that allowed me to teach at Clarke Middle and work with these four individuals as they prepared for their honors day speeches.