by Amy Haggerty
This year, Lori Zemke made a major change from teaching elementary students to teaching 7th-grade science. She is excited about this opportunity to return to her first love—working with middle school students.
Zemke grew up in Highland, Michigan and attended Milford High School and then Eastern Michigan University where she received her bachelor’s degree. Later, she earned her master’s degree from Marygrove College.
She has three children: Kyle, Jason, and Michelle. Kyle and Zemke’s daughter-in-law, Sarah, have two daughters—Raegan and Lena. Zemke and her husband Fred have been together since 1989. She considers Fred to be her “greatest cheerleader!” She says, “He is the reason I was able to go back to school and complete my degrees.”
When not in the classroom, Zemke enjoys spending time with family and friends, sometimes binge-watching Netflix. She loves hiking and kayaking and has fond memories of traveling to Palau with the Stockbridge Robotics Team. “Absolutely amazing to swim with the jellyfish, and the water is amazing for snorkeling.”
Zemke shared a valuable lesson she has learned from a her own career in teaching: “Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of teaching all grades, from Pre-K to 8th grade. Teachers are more capable of change than we realize.” She considers the past couple of years to be her finest for forming relationships with students and watching them overcome learning obstacles. But the best part is watching them succeed.
A highlight from her interactions with students was with a former student on the last day of school. A young man who had struggled and needed guidance handed Zemke a handwritten letter thanking her for taking the time to talk to him, whether it was good or bad. He promised he would do better next school year so he could be proud of himself. According to Zemke, helping kids and watching them recognize that they can do better is the best part of teaching.
She passes on some valuable advice to Stockbridge Community students, “Do your best every day in whatever you try. Be honest, and most importantly, be kind.“ This is great advice coming from a seasoned teacher who takes the time to recognize when a student needs a pep talk.
Anytime we can get teachers like Zemke in the Stockbridge Community School District, we’re better off for it.