Donna Zvonar OSF - 8th Grade - Science/Math/Religion

I was raised in Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I have 2 sisters and one brother.

I attended Immaculate Conception Catholic Grade School and York Community High School in Elmhurst. I graduated in the top 3% of my class and received an Illinois Teaching Scholarship. I attended the University of Illinois in Urbana and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education with Highest Honors and teaching certificates in Special Education-EMH and Elementary Education. I completed my Master’s Degree in Special Education at Illinois State University with a 4.0 grade point average. I also qualified for teaching certificates in Behavior Disorders and Learning Disabilities. My passion is Science. I have 24 hours of post-graduate work, maintaining my 4.0 average.

I am a member of the National Science Teachers Association, the Illinois Science Teachers Association and the National Catholic Educator’s Association. I am constantly seeking challenges for my students. Over the past several years we have grown seeds from space, tested water quality at local lakes and piloted curriculum for several different organizations. The past 3 years we have been involved with Project 2061, helping them with assessment questions. One year the 7th graders sorted fill from an archeological dig. The 6th, 7th & 8th graders have also piloted science test questions on problem solving.

I taught at Pontiac High School for four years in a self-contained special education classroom. I applied at St. Mary’s School and was hired for the 7th grade position for the fall of 1978. I felt at home as soon as I walked into the building for the first time. I believe that this is where God is calling me to be. This year is my 38th year teaching at St. Mary’s School.

I have taught all subjects at St. Mary’s School since I started. I currently have an 8th grade homeroom. I teach 8th grade Religion, including Confirmation preparation, pre-algebra and 6-8 Science (my favorite!).

For 6 years I was involved with the PRISM program through Illinois State University. This is a program funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Its goal is to match ISU graduate fellows in math, science and technology with local teachers to help develop curriculum and provide technical support. We have developed many new lessons. They also have been a great help in organizing some of our major projects and field trips. Unfortunately, this program is no longer being funded in this area. However, through my PRISM contacts with the ISU biology Department, the last 6 years I have hosted ISU biology education majors in our science classroom to give them contact with real kids and curriculum development before their student teaching experience.

Many years ago I became interested in grant writing. I have been awarded a digital camera, $4,000 for lake studies, and $1,000 from the Capco Science Challenge for the development and implementation of a unit using milkweed as a bio-indicator of ozone. Thanks to a grant from Corn Belt, we now also have 3 newer digital cameras and a photo printer. A second grant from them yielded GPS units and mapping software. So far, I have brought in over $18,000 in grant money. We have a lot of exciting science equipment including insect nets, dissecting microscopes, graphing calculators and Vernier probes. Grants funded my SMART board and projector. We have a “cooking cart” full of equipment for teachers to use in their classrooms. We also have lots of new equipment to use during our lake studies and 15 new compound microscopes.

I am very willing to help other teachers with their grant writing. In past years I have written grants for several Magiscopes (simple microscopes) for use by our younger students, a water table for the Pre-K room, and three batches of the first and second graders have visited Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on field trips. Please keep your eyes open for grant opportunities and pass them on!

For several years, I served as an on-line mentor for beginning teachers through the Novice Teacher Support Program through the University of Illinois. I try to be available to our St. Mary’s teachers in this capacity, as well. I have also served on our Spiritual Growth Committee and help to prepare our students for Confirmation. Now I am a member of our Curriculum Instruction and Assessment committee. We focused on math assessments, science curriculum & social studies. We are working on integrating the new Next Generation Science Standards into our instruction.

I am a member of St. Mary’s Parish. I am a lector, cantor, leader of the 11:00 choir, Eucharistic Minister and Minister of the Altar. I help provide meals for bereavement dinners. In 2002 I became a professed Secular Franciscan.

I am married with 2 daughters. My husband, Michael, works at Mitsubishi. Christy lives in the Chicago area and works in the human resource department for a small family owned business. She is actually using her degrees! Tricia is working full time and finished her Associate’s Degree at Heartland Community College. My granddaughter, Alyssa is 12 years old and attends St. Mary’s seventh grade. She continues to keep us busy with all of her activities. She is the best gift from God ever!

For fun I read lots of books, especially detective novels and science fiction/fantasy. After 32 years I have taken a leave of absence from my volunteer work as a dog trainer for Town & Country Kennel Club. I love to walk my dog, Skye, and to be outside, especially near water. And, as any one of my students can tell you, I love chocolate and my favorite color is still green.

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