HHS teacher lives extraordinary life outside school walls

Tricia Tucker, Staff Writer

rsz_gabe010By Staff Writer: Tricia Tucker

When children are in elementary school, the general thought is that teachers live in the teachers’ lounge.  They don’t really think that teachers have lives outside of school.  Well, Mrs. Kathleen Zents lives the opposite of this stereotype.  Not only is she a fun, intelligent teacher, but she has a whole world outside of school that would blow your mind.

As a child and growing up, Mrs. Zents always enjoyed math as well as helping people.  When deciding on a career, she had multiple options, however, she decided to become a math teacher because it was a good combination of two things she loved to do.  She graduated from Eastern Michigan University where she received her master’s degree plus 30 hours of experience.

Mrs. Zents started her career at Highlander Way Middle school, and then moved on to Howell High School.  Mrs. Zents has never taught anywhere besides Howell.  This year is her 40th and last year teaching. “I want to go while I’ve still got it,” says Mrs. Zents.

Most students are told to go into a career path they will enjoy, because no one wants to go to work every day doing something they hate.  When asked if she enjoys teaching, Mrs. Zents replied with, “I look forward to coming to work every day.  I enjoy it very much.”

She teaches both Geometry and AP Calculus.   “For me personally, I like the challenge of teaching calculus.  But my favorite class is always the one with students willing to learn.”

When taking AP Calculus, students are guaranteed to get their tests and quizzes back and graded within two days.  Normally, teachers take at least a week or more to grade that many tests.  But due to Mrs. Zents’s dedication to her students, they get feedback right away.

“I think they need them back as soon as possible.  For the calc tests, it takes between ten and twelve hours.  I grade them in blocks of two to three hours,” says Mrs. Zents.

Normally, she will have the television on with a movie playing while she is grading away.  However, she has also graded them while eating out at a restaurant.

Something that is unique about Mrs. Zents’ class is that she always brings in snacks when it’s a test day.  For instance, for her Geometry class, she brings in a variety of snacks like granola bars, candy, and trail mix.  For her AP Calculus class she brings in snacks such as trail mix, granola bars and popcorn.  However, she also bakes brownies, cookies, and cupcakes.  Overall, as you move up in math you get better rewards during your tests.  “It started when I only had one class of 20 students.  I did it to give them a reward, plus I like baking for other people.” says Mrs. Zents.

Mrs. Zents has three children: Carol, Dawn, and Alan.  Carol works for an engineering firm doing cost analysis.  Dawn is the supervisor for JCPenny styling salons for the state of both Michigan and northern Ohio.  Alan, however, is recuperating from a cornea transplant due to an injury at work.  Along with this, she also has four grandchildren who she loves spending time with.  “We go to the movies and I love shopping.”

Ms. Zentz has a variety of talents once she leaves the classroom.  She is an incredible seamstress.  Not only did she make her wedding dress, but she also made both of her daughters’ and her friends.  And they don’t even appear as if they were homemade, they actually look as if they were bought from a store.  They take her between three and four weeks to produce.  Well, on top of all of this, she can also make between 12 to 15 different head pieces for friends and family.

“It’s something you can do for a wedding gift and it saves them a thousand dollars.”

Along with having a master’s degree in teaching, she also graduated with a minor in music.  Not only is she in the Livingston County Choir, but she also traveled to South America with the Youth for Understanding Chorale (YFU).  In the past, she was also an exchange student to Finland.

As well as being a seamstress and singer, she enjoys a variety of other activities.  In her spare time she enjoys to travel.  Her friend of 46 years owns a house in Connecticut that she likes to call her summer house.  She also enjoys walking around the Tanger Outlet in Howell.  She walks between three and four miles a day.

Also, Mrs. Zents has one extremely important quality: she is devoted to keeping friendships.  She has a friend of 56 years, Carol.  Many of her friendships have come a long way throughout her life, and it’s something she is proud of.

“I really treasure my long friendships,” says Mrs. Zents.