Moving to a new city, especially one like Los Angeles, in the middle of high school can be stressful. It’s important to have teachers to help guide you through the changes that come with a new school, city, or even state. Verma Zapanta, my 10th grade World History teacher, was that teacher for me.
Aside from just being a guiding person in my life, she was a teacher that made it fun to learn history again. Zapanta challenged us to think for ourselves every single day and made it a different experience from any other history class I’ve been in. It’s impossible to teach something like history without taking a bias, so rather than teaching it in a, “This is what happened, now take a test on all this information,” kind of way, she taught us to take the information we are given in documents and other sources and to formulate our own ideas about what happened and made us think for ourselves every single day. We got to tell the story rather than just reading about it and being quizzed on dates and names.
Outside of being a teacher, Zapanta was a friend to students who needed someone. Many teachers don’t take the time to learn about their students aside from their names and how they act in class. Zapanta tried to get to know any student who was willing to open up to her. She wanted to know how students acted with their friends and what they were as a human not just a student. You could go to her on any day just for a friendly conversation or to get advice on something in your personal life and she would be willing to help. I think that’s one of the best things about her, she knows that students are just humans. It’s endearing to know that she sees her students as people rather than just a name and a student ID.