Tallmadge -- Tallmadge High School named Arene Staszak, math teacher and junior class advisor, as the Teacher of the Year for the 2011-12 school year.
"I was so surprised to even have been nominated, let alone chosen as Teacher of the Year," the first-time honoree said. "The whole reason I am a teacher is because I want to teach kids that math really isn't all that bad. If I can change even one student's outlook on math and maybe even other aspects of his or her life then I have been successful."
All teachers at the high school are eligible to be nominated. Teachers are permitted to nominate each other, and a committee of administrators and former Teachers of the Year select a new honoree each year based on a variety of factors, including educational background, experience, achievements, extracurriculars and professional activities, such as serving on committees.
Staszak has a bachelor's degree in zoology with a minor in statistics from Miami University of Ohio and a master's degree in secondary education from The University of Akron.
She has been teaching math at THS since 2004. As the junior class advisor since 2008, she helps plan and execute prom.
"Mrs. Staszak is such an excellent choice for our high school Teacher of the Year," Principal Rebecca DeCapua said. "She works both individually and collectively with her department to ensure our students are receiving the highest levels of teaching and learning."
DeCapua said Staszak's "dedication to high teaching standards" has helped students perform well on the state's graduation tests.
"Not only is Arene willing to learn new strategies and best practices to serve her students, but she is also willing to serve as junior class advisor, offering students memorable extracurricular activities such as prom. We are fortunate to have such a gifted educator at Tallmadge High School," DeCapua said.
Staszak is teaching Algebra I and II this school year.
"I love my job, but it can be exhausting and frustrating at times," she said. "To find out that others think I am doing a good job at it, by nominating me for this award, is rejuvenating and a great feeling. I am truly honored."
The former Arene Manneh is a 1995 graduate of THS. She lives in Tallmadge with her husband, Steve, a 1996 THS graduate, and their two daughters, Leila, 6, and Kiera, 3.
During her free time, she enjoys being at home with her family and singing around the area on the weekends with the country band "The Buck Naked Band." She previously performed with "Beyond Blue and the VooDoo Doctors," a blues and classic rock band.
"I love to sing and perform. It's a great outlet -- something just for me," she said.