Congratulations to Jason Zembuch-Young, drama and theater teacher at South Plantation High School, for being named winner of the Barnes & Noble 2020 Teacher of the Year award. Zembuch-Young was nominated by his former student Chase Dietrich, whose entry into the Barnes & Nobile My Favorite Teacher contest was chosen from thousands of entries nationwide.
In February, Barnes & Noble invited students to nominate their favorite teacher by writing essays, poems, or thank-you letters that shared how their teacher influenced them. Entries were judged on the compelling nature of the teacher’s qualities, the sincerity of the student’s appreciation and the quality of expression and writing. As this year’s winner, Zembuch-Young, received a $5,000 award and another $5,000 to share with South Plantation High School.
“The Barnes & Noble My Favorite Teacher contest provides an opportunity to hear from students around the country about the teachers who changed their lives and reward an exemplary teacher and school for his or her work,” said Tracy Vidakovich, vice president, Business Development for Barnes & Noble. “This year, we are pleased to award the My Favorite Teacher award to Mr. Jason Zembuch-Young, whose commitment to his students through theater and the arts is reflected in Chase Dietrich’s inspiring essay.”
In his essay, Chase praised Zembuch-Young for including all students at the school through his theater program by performing all productions in American Sign Language. “Mr. Zembuch-Young not only taught me about the arts, which I will be pursuing in college but also how to speak up and champion for those less fortunate,” wrote Chase.
“I became a teacher because I wanted to give young people something I desperately needed when I was their age – an advocate who always sees potential for more, regardless of one’s situation, and pushes others to become their better selves,” said Zembuch-Young. “The fact that Chase sees me as someone who has done that for him means more to me than anything. Thank you, Chase, for allowing me to be such an integral part of your life, and thank you, Barnes & Noble, for making sure that educators feel valued.”