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Annie Zoll wins KENS 5 EXCEL Award for Harlandale ISD

"Talk about building relationships with students -- she's at the games, watching them play. Even she's there, taking tickets."

SAN ANTONIO — Math is a difficult subject; it's one that can really fright students.

But, when numbers are in question, one teacher has found a way to make it not just easier, but more enjoyable for her 8th graders.

KENS 5 Anchor Sarah Forgany introduced us to Annie Zoll, our KENS 5 Excel winner for Harlandale Independent School District.

"I can't imagine teaching a different subject at this point," said Zoll. She can transform an often dreaded topic into something exciting

"It's a challenge to teach, like, just to make it fun and engaging. There's a lot of funny voices my coworkers would tell you," said Zoll.

Even for a subject as stressful as math

"Kids are like, 'Okay, Ms. Stop. Okay. All right, Ms.' This is what we do," said Zoll with a smile on her face. "Even though I'm being goofy, they know I'm serious about their education. So, it just seems to work."

As more and more students fall behind while remote learning, Zoll has also stepped up to lead a credit recovery program at Kingsborough Middle School, focusing on helping her struggling 8th graders.

"Sometimes, they even think learning is hard. Not necessarily because of the content that we're teaching, but maybe there's something else that's going on that's distracting them. So, I try and get down to -- 'Is there something going on at home?'" said Zoll.

And she's never afraid to venture outside the classroom to show her students just how much she cares.

"Talk about building relationships with students -- she's at the games, watching them play. Even she's there, taking tickets. Doing things outside what a normal teacher would do," said Academic Dean Leticia Tristan.

"I like to go; I like to see them outside of the classroom just to see them. They may not be the best at math, but they may be a really good athlete and they want to be seen in that best light. And I think they appreciate when we go...somebody from their family is not going to see them, so somebody rooting for them," said Zoll.

More often than not, Zoll says students walk into her classroom with a notion they're not good at math.

But, by the time they leave, that changes.

"What I really appreciated is when the kids that have already moved on email me and tell me how much they miss math, my math class. Because I made math fun," said Zoll.

Forgany told Zoll, "We thank you for everything you have done. Congratulations!"

Zoll said, "I love that y'all celebrate teachers and recognize the hard work we do. So, I'm really excited. Actually, I'm super excited right now."