Sunday, March 24, 2019

By Brooke Larsen

Diann Zirtzman knew from an early age she was meant to be a teacher. She grew up listening to her grandmother tell stories of the one-room schoolhouse she taught in during her early career. Diann dreamed of the day she would be at the front of her own classroom with her own stories to share.

“I remember my grandmother giving me her extra classroom books, worksheets, and workbooks,” Diann says. “I have such wonderful memories of playing school with the neighborhood kids. Of course, I was always the teacher.”

Diann graduated from the University of Iowa in 1985 with a degree in elementary education and a reading endorsement. She is a lifetime Iowa Citian and proud of it.

Her first teaching job began in Iowa City in the fall of 1986, when she was hired as a third-grade teacher at Regina Elementary in Iowa City where she has worked for 28 years in different roles such as religious education coordinator and substitute teacher. Currently, Diann teaches fourth grade.

“I chose to stay in the Iowa City community because it is wonderfully diverse,” Diann says. “Iowa City is the perfect place to raise children, and it’s nice being close to my parents and siblings. I am the first University of Iowa graduate in my family, and I’m proud to have both of my children currently attending the University of Iowa.”

Hawkeye Teacher daughter and mother

Diann’s daughter, Anna Zirtzman, is currently studying elementary education and is set to graduate from the College of Education in December 2019.

Diann says she is thrilled her daughter is following in her footsteps.

“Anna is truly the most patient and caring person I know,” Diann says. “She will be an amazing teacher, and I cannot wait to share this wonderful and rewarding profession with her.”

Just like her mother, Anna knew from an early age she was meant to be a teacher. After graduating from Regina High School in 2014, she got a job at the Regina Early Childhood Center where she has been happily employed for the past five years.

“It was throughout that time when I began to fall in love with working with kids. Seeing a child grow and develop while knowing I had something to do with that change is the best feeling,” Anna says.

One of Anna’s most treasured memories was attending the College of Education Elementary Education Book Club, created by faculty member Renita Schmidt with support from the Baker Teacher Leader Center.

“During book clubs, we discussed ways to use literature to introduce more sensitive topics into classroom discussion,” Anna says. “As an educator, it’s important to allow students a chance to see themselves in a text, but also encounter characters whose lives differ from their own.”

After graduating from the College of Education, Anna would like to work in the Iowa City area to pursue teaching and stay close to family and friends.

Diann says the faculty at the UI College of Education give students the confidence they need to be strong leaders in the classroom.

“My education at the University of Iowa will always mean a lot to me, Diann says. “I will always consider myself a Hawkeye, and I’m happy my kids can do the same.”

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Read more from the 2018-2019 Alumni Magazine.