The Power and Positive Impact of a Teacher
Fourth grade. It was a BIG DEAL at Nisswa Elementary School. That was the year you crossed the divide, making the move from the “little kids” side of the school to the “big kids” side. It was also the year you left the “single classroom” model and had different teachers for each subject, moving from classroom to classroom each period. You were going places… literally. It was a monumental shift in school as we knew it.
One of the biggest questions on every fourth grader’s mind was “Who will my homeroom teacher be?” Ahh… homeroom. Another new concept. The place you would call “home” for the year. The place you would always come back to, where you would form bonds with your fellow homeroom “siblings”, certain that your home was the best! Well, ladies and gentleman, I can confidently still say… an unmentionable number of years later… that MY homeroom was and always will be the BEST. There is ONE reason for that… one “Joy of Minnesota” who made that homeroom a very special place for each and every one of us…
Mrs. Joyce “Jo” Zaiser
I had the honor and privilege of being in Mrs. Zaiser’s homeroom for two years, spending those formative years of fourth and fifth grade under her firm but loving guidance. That hour was more than just a class or a study hall. We were a family. She encouraged us. She challenged us. She engaged our minds and our creativity. Science experiments, outdoor adventures, the guinea pigs!
Who can forget every Halloween when she would turn that amazing science classroom of hers into a haunted wax museum? I can still remember the excitement of planning our room with my fellow classmates, and the thrill of being not just allowed, but encouraged, to stand up on our desks and create our best creepy wax figure pose as every student in the school would parade through the room. It was more than just a fun experience. We were building bonds, working together, and creating memories that have shaped each and every one of us, and remain etched in our minds all these years later.
Mrs. Zaiser genuinely CARED about each and every student in that room… and far beyond those walls. Years later, when our paths would cross, she would always give me a kind word of encouragement and that beautiful smile of hers that reached all the way to her eyes.
A Lasting Legacy …
My heart ached when I learned that Mrs. Zaiser passed away on January 21. The response from classmates and the entire Nisswa community was overwhelming. As I read post after post and comment after comment recalling memories just like mine, they painted a clear picture of what a “joy” this incredible woman was to so many. As a teacher… a mom… a friend… a neighbor… a strong, intelligent, creative, and caring educator who made this world a better place. She opened the eyes, hearts and minds of the students who were lucky enough to have a seat on those science room stools. We may have been in a small town in the middle of Minnesota, but Mrs. Zaiser brought the world to our doorstep. She will be missed… but remembered by MANY.
I can’t help but think she’s convincing God right this minute to create a wax museum for a parade through heaven…