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Aniya Sparrow

Ms. Zykan conducts a brainstorming session for new t-shirt designs. Zykan is responsible for creating different t-shirts for clubs and events like Arte.

Amy Zykan

Going into my freshman year, I had so many different anxieties. Would all of my teachers be nice? Would I do well in my classes? Would I be successful in Algebra I? My 8th grade year wasn’t exactly all sunshine and rainbows; I’d started a new school and really struggled – particularly with math. With the combination of a learning disability which can impair my ability to perform even simple addition and subtraction problems and a Pre-Algebra teacher who did more to make me struggle than succeed, I had a lot of worries surrounding the academic year when it came to numbers and equations. I’d had a great support system at Saeger – but what would it look like at FHC? It felt like I was starting all over again, and I was scared.

And then I met Mrs. Zykan. As the case manager for my IEP, she helped me get the accommodations I needed and was my go-to person when I was stressed or overwhelmed about math. From the very first time I met her, Mrs. Zykan has done nothing but support and uplift me. She has encouraged me when I’ve been worried about how I’m doing in class — any class, not just math — and always reassures me that I’ll do amazing. In the times where I’m succeeding at school, I don’t see Mrs. Zykan much, but whenever I’ve come to her with a struggle she does everything she can to help me and make sure that I have the resources I need. When my anxiety has gotten really bad, she’s let me come and sit in her room during the school day so I didn’t have to sit in guidance. Especially this year, which has the person at school I can always count on and turn to when I’m having a rough day.

Whenever I go into her classroom, no matter what kind of day I’m having, I know that when I walk in her classroom I’ll be greeted with a huge, enthusiastic smile and a “hey girl, how are you?” She’ll talk with me about how I’m doing, what’s going on in our lives, and things happening around the school. And she’ll also just let me sit in her comfy chair quietly while she works if I’ve been overwhelmed or tired and I need some quiet time. Even this year, when my IEP case has been closed because I no longer need accommodations for my learning disability because I’m not enrolled in a math class, she continues to support me as if nothing is different. She makes me smile and brightens my mood, and my day is always better for having stopped by her room – whether it’s to seek help or just say hello. She makes me feel wanted and needed in school, and assured me through the way she supports me that my whole self is welcome in school — the parts of me that are happy and optimistic and good at writing and singing and music. The parts of me that are anxious and struggle in class. The me that’s joyful and positive on good days, and the me that just needs to cry and have a hug on the bad days. 

Mrs. Zykan might not be widely known by the student population, seeing as she only teaches one class on her own and co-teaches another. She works mostly doing what she’s done for me the past four years – helping students with IEPs and supporting them, helping them to succeed. But she is truly one of the most important teachers in our school. She takes the students who believe they’re incapable of learning, and empowers them to know they can. She makes an incredible difference in the lives of her students, and she makes sure all of her students know how valued and needed they are. 

If I could go back in time and talk to my 8th grade self, I wish I could tell her how everything would be okay. That it might not always be easy, but that she had nothing to worry about, because someone would always have her back.

Thank you Mrs. Zykan, for everything.

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