School newspaper of Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa

Mrs. Zambrano Retires: The End of An Era

March 12, 2018

After 24 years of teaching at the Academy and becoming the foundress of multiple traditions, chemistry teacher, Rebeca Zambrano is retiring. In her life outside of Academy, Zambrano enjoys traveling, visiting with her grandchildren, and caring for her mother. 

Zambrano started at Academy in August of 1994. Her students’ learning is the most important thing to Zambrano as a teacher. Zambrano says, “I want my students to love learning for the sake of learning, to be persistent and not give up, and to be loyal to themselves and their beliefs, to always trust in their instincts.”  

Rebecca Zambrano is also the host of Academy’s annual Hunger Banquet. Photo Credit: Audrey Diaz/ Achona Online

Zambrano recalls having many teachers who have come before her that have influenced her as a teacher, however, she specifically recalls one mentor of hers, Jesus Castro.

“He was a very wise person and in his teaching he actually guided me to start teaching chemistry because I was certified, but I started in biology and, he kind of trusted me I guess that I could do it and he took me under his wing, says Zambrano. 

She also says, “I look up to those teachers who try to influence the students to know in a kind of hands off way.”

Zambrano said, “In general I have a lot of wonderful memories of people here, those who have retired as well as those here, and I still miss them dearly but new people have come in and do wonderful, all in all it’s it’s a family and it’s it’s been very special.”

Beth Chase, Social Studies Instructor, says, “Mrs. Zambrano is a wonderful person who exemplifies what we hope all of our girls here at the Academy will strive to become, and I am going to miss her.”

Someone once told Zambrano, “prior preparation prevents poor performance,” and this is something that she has carried with her in her years of teaching.

Zambrano said, I always tried to be prepared, so if I were telling this to a new teacher I would say, oh yes definitely be sure that you’re prepared before the students walk in so that things go smoothly and you can achieve the desired results of course.”

“I love Mrs. Z, because sophomore year she challenged me in Chemistry and she never let me slack off, which helped me grow my work ethic. I think she prepared me for AP Chemistry very well and really opened me up to Chemistry in general,” says Julia Lee (’18). 

 

“Being that it is the last year of Mole Day at Academy I don’t think that there could have been a better person to honor.  I know that she was shocked when we crowned her and very thankful that the Mole Era ended that way,” says Alex Smith (’18).  Photo Credit: Emily Wise (used with permission) 

Zambrano brought many traditions to the Academy such as the Mission trip to the Dominican Republic, Mole day, and the Interact Club’s Blood Drive.

“Going to Dominican Republic every year has really shaped the family that I consider over there as well it has impacted everything in my life,” says Zambrano.

“From interacting with Mrs. Z for the Dominican Republic mission trip, I have come to know and appreciate her jubilant disposition as well as her passion to offer hope to others,” says Isabella Thorpe (’19).

She also says, “I think that if I had never come to Academy, if that opening had not been there at that particular point, I would totally be a different person with different experience.”

Emma Crall (’20) said, “She always has a positive outlook on everything that she teaches and she is one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. She continues to believe in my classmates and I, and encourages us to become our best selves.”

Zambrano has a retirement bucket list, and recognizes that she may not be able to finish all of the items on the list, but that she will certainly try.

Zambrano says, “I’d like to go see the Northern Lights and maybe go to China; and I love the national parks and would like to visit as many national parks as I can.”

As many of her students know, Zambrano has attempted to climb Pike’s Peak twice and was unable to complete the hike both times. She plans on attempting the climb one more time once she retires. “I still have pending that I had to finish my climb to Pike’s Peak. The second time I failed, and we all know the third time’s the charm, so I have to do that,” said Zambrano.

Along with all of her adventurous goals, Zambrano’s daughter is having twins and she intends to spend a lot of time with them once they arrive.

“Right now my daughter lives in Washington D.C., but she is moving to Rhode Island, because she is military, so we’ll be going to Rhode Island for the next couple years and who knows where next and I hope to bring the older grandchild down to see Disney World.”

Family is important to Zambrano and she wants her students to know that, “when you have a very demanding career, what place is your family going to take in your life, so you have to really find your priorities and define who you are and what you want in the in the end and then work backwards and find that.”

Zambrano teaches her students to balance school, family, and social lives, because all are important to her. “You have to balance your life because without balance things fall apart and sometimes we encourage our girls to do everything, and you can do it all, but sometimes the reality is that we can’t do it all and we have to be okay with that,” says Zambrano.

Zambrano’s last piece of advice to everyone at Academy is: “don’t give up, don’t give up on your dreams, work hard and you can achieve anything.”

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