High expectations

When discussing her teaching philosophy, Zepp is demonstrative with her hand motions, setting the bar here with her hand in the air before bumping it up a little bit.

"Out of the gate, they know that if they need to be here, I'm going to be here," she says, motioning with her hands. "Immediately, it sounds like yikes to them, but soon enough they know that I am walking with them every step of the way."

She describes her career as one that she "really lives and breathes."

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"They [students] know that I want them to learn and I do what it takes for them to get to where they need to be," she said.

Harryman was involved in Zepp's interview five years ago and recognized how knowledgeable Zepp was about her profession.

"Right away, I could tell this particular person is someone who is really dedicated to the profession," she said. "She is such a solid teacher all around."

Milgram Asch

Zepp was presented with the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award April 11 at Hammond by Superintendent Renee Foose.

But it wasn't without some trickery by her students.

During a class where students were learning about the sociological research done by Stanley Milgram and Solomon Asch on conformity, a voice from the main office boomed through the loud speaker, saying simply, "Milgram Asch."

Shortly thereafter, Zepp's students got up from their seats and asked if they left in unison would it insubordination or conformity. Thinking this was a joke, Zepp first went back to teaching and then tried to call the main office before eventually following her students to the school choir room where she was presented with the award.

For Zepp, the recognition has been "overwhelming."

"Who seeks this in teaching when it's a vocation and a calling. I sought a way to serve and that is why I am in the classroom," she said.

Zepp said she hasn't fully embraced the idea that she is teacher of the year since the last day of school isn't until June 20.

"It's an honor," she said of the award. "How do you articulate being honored for that which gets you up every morning."