William & Mary School of Education alumnus Zachary Fetters '16, M.A.Ed. '18 has been named Rookie Teacher of the Year in the Williamsburg-James City County Teachers of the Year ceremony. He is one of 12 alumni who received Teacher of the Year accolades at the annual ceremony. The other recipients include:
- Mary Glisan Ed.D. '92 – Berkeley & Middle School Teacher of the Year
- Patty Gorski Harris '87 – Bright Beginnings Teacher of the Year
- Diane Howell M.A.Ed. '05 – Clara Byrd Baker Elementary Teacher of the Year
- Roxana Cornejo Jankovic '95, M.Ed. '05 – Matoaka Elementary Teacher of the Year
- Andrea Lane M.Ed. '09 – Lois S. Hornsby Teacher of the Year
- Emily Lovekamp '17, M.A.Ed. '18 – Toano Middle Rookie Teacher of the Year
- Amy Newcomb M.A.Ed. '18 – Matthew Whaley Elementary Rookie Teacher of the Year
- Emma Zahren-Newman '17, M.A.Ed. '18 – Matoaka Elementary Rookie Teacher of the Year
- Alynn Parham M.A.Ed. '18 – Jamestown High Rookie Teacher of the Year
- Abby Weitz Reynolds '05, M.A.Ed. '10 – DJ Montague & Elementary School Teacher of the Year
- Kate Roessler M.A.Ed. '17 – Norge Elementary Rookie Teacher of the Year
The 25-year-old Fetters, a special education teacher at Warhill High School, teaches self-contained classes for the first half of his day and then co-teaches Algebra 1 for freshmen. He says receiving the award was “a huge surprise.”
“It was such an honor to receive the award, but truly I want to give all the credit to my students and the team of teachers who have allowed me to try things that they may have never done before in a class. The group of people I work with have allowed me to try and fail and reflect continually throughout this year and I would not be able to teach without their grace!” he says.
Fetters credits his two younger twin brothers with starting him on his journey to becoming a special education teacher. They are 10 years younger than him, and were both diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). His observations of them and their unique gifts — even their differences from one another — honed his passion for finding the unique gifts in each of his students.
“One of the biggest things that continually gives me hope in my work is when other people recognize and value the gifts of my students,” says Fetters, who also participated in the 2018 Teachers of Promise Institute. “Each one of the students has a unique contribution to make to society and it is awesome to see when people realize how much better our community is when there are people of all abilities. My goal is to amplify the gifts of each student that comes into my life.”
Fetters worked briefly as a college-level football coach after he finished his undergraduate degree. A lifelong football player who was a linebacker on the Tribe football team, he recalls that he always believed football would be central in his life. However, he soon found that he instead wanted to learn more about ASD, and work with students who saw the world differently. Fetters returned to William & Mary to complete his training in special education. Ever the team player, he emphasizes that all of his fellow Rookie Teacher of the Year recipients are inspiring to him.
“The class of first year educators in both general education and special education that were recognized is incredible. Those colleagues of mine are some of the most creative and engaging educators that I have come across,” says Fetters.
See a full list of all the WJCC teachers of the year.