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Teacher Appreciation Day: Districts honor educators who've worked hard during the pandemic

Klein ISD's Elementary Teacher of the Year credits students with giving him purpose.

KLEIN, Texas — Math teacher Zachariah Ansari's relatively brief career at Klein ISD’s Krahn Elementary has quickly added up.

"This is actually my fourth year teaching third grade," Ansari said. “I had incredible leaders that empowered me to move forward.”

The psychology major originally from southern California came to Texas to learn how to fly. But colorblindness led him to teaching which he quickly realized was a calling.

"We can always count on him to innovate and take risks in his classroom,” said principal Leslie Kompelien.

Ansari earned a teaching certificate while working as a paraprofessional and was recently named Klein ISD’s district-wide elementary teacher of the year.

"In every school, in every classroom that you come to visit, there’s always amazing things going on," Ansari said. "And I’m only a small piece of that.”

A number of area districts, including Klein, have awarded bonuses or even raises to teachers and other staff this year specifically to recognize their work dealing with COVID-19.

They filled social media pages on Teacher Appreciation Day with photos and recognitions as well.

But Ansari credits students with providing purpose for him.

"It’s not just them learning from me but me learning from them," Ansari said. "Everyday they teach me something new. They teach me something about myself.”

Seeing the impact of the pandemic on the kids may be among this year’s greatest challenges. But strength and perseverance continue to be valuable lessons.

"When I see my colleagues say all of these things about me, I think the same about them,” Ansari said.

In a message to educators, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said that Texas teachers have gone beyond the call of duty this year.