“Charming.” “Lovely.” “Dedicated.” “Reliable.” These are the words repeated time and again by all those who work with senior Elizabeth Zwaska. “Amazing” is the word that comes to mind to most who observe this energetic 80-year-old substitute teacher as she interacts with young children who can easily zap the energy out of someone half her age.
Elizabeth has an obvious love for children, which motivates her to keep coming back. When she retired from 32 years of teaching she saw a need for dedicated individuals who would be willing to lend a hand. She began substitute teaching at that time and has been at it ever since. “At first I was teaching the children of students who had been in my classes,” says Elizabeth. “Now, I am beginning to see their grandchildren!”
She has been a faithful substitute at both Lakewood and Fannin Elementary schools, but when her own grandson entered the pre-K program at Lakewood she decided to focus on Fannin. “I’m kind of a grandmother figure to all the children,” she says, “but I wasn’t sure it would be good to actually have his grandmother as his teacher!”
“She is very much like a grandmother to the students,” agrees Fannin Elementary Pre-K teacher Millie Haar. “She spoils them and they just love her.” In addition, Millie says Elizabeth is an outstanding educator. “I trust her explicitly when it comes to taking charge of my class. She seems to have a special talent for reading whether a project I’ve left on the lesson plan is going over well. If the children seem disinterested or confused, she is easily able to adapt the task so that they really understand and enjoy the concept being taught.”
Elizabeth graduated from San Marcos State Teacher’s College in 1943, where she was an Art major. She later returned to school at North Texas State University to complete a second degree in Home Economics. Elizabeth taught for more than three decades in the Dallas Independent School District before retiring in 1984. In addition, she raised four children. She still resides in the Lakewood area, and plans to continue substitute teaching as long as she is able. “I just find it so rewarding.” says Elizabeth. “I really miss it when I don’t go.” And, it seems she is truly needed. She taught eight days in the last two weeks of school alone.
“Charming.” “Lovely.” “Dedicated.” “Reliable.” While these words certainly describe Elizabeth Zwaska, the best word to describe her – the word from which she derives the most pride – is simply, “Teacher.”
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