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  • Emily Layola, Rahsaan Phares

Destined to Teach: Aziz Zahraoui

Greeting his students with a smile, Mr. Aziz Zahraoui is on a mission to lead his students into a greater future. At the age of 22, he came to America, which gave him the opportunity to complete said mission.

He originated from Morocco and moved to the United States.

¨North Africa is like any other place. I mean, I'm a city person and I live in the city. The weather is not much different from here. The city that I was in is pretty much comparable to where Norfolk is,¨ he said about his experience of both Morocco and Norfolk.

Moving to America was the best and ideal way to fully achieve his goals of a higher education. Going to college at Old Dominion University was a step closer to his goal.

¨The schooling was somewhat limited. Although higher education was available, you couldn't expect anything higher. So if you have eyes on becoming an expert on your field, you need to look somewhere else.¨

¨I came here in the 2000s and at that time, it was the start of the .com when technology and the internet exploded. So at that point in time, I thought it was the best advantage.¨

As he expected, coming to America was the solution to his problem.

¨Well my field of study was engineering. Computer engineering is what I wanted to work with. However, as I was in school, a lot of people pointed me into teaching. At the time I brushed it off. I didn’t really think much of it. But as we interacted, they saw me as more of a teacher.¨

However, teaching was not what he originally aspired to do.

¨I was at the walk-in for my graduation and my friend tapped me on the shoulder and he said, ¨You really should consider teaching.¨ I thought it was interesting. This was during 2004, so it was a bad time to be in technology. So that’s when I started teaching. And when I started, I was like, ¨Yeah I think I can like this.¨ It grew on me.¨

Teaching high school students can be something that most people are not interested in. However, Zahraoui is someone that does not mind and actually enjoys it.

Mr. Zahraoui helps a student in his Algebra II class.

¨Nowadays people are saying teachers this, teachers that. I think one of the things that are impacting the profession is that there is no new blood. You guys, the young ones, are not really thinking ¨Oh yeah I want to be a teacher.¨ And I think that is the disheartening thing about it. It is a good profession to have. It has a lot of potential to fulfill what you want to be as a person in all levels. But yes I do like it.¨

Math teacher Mr. Zirpolo, who was mentored by Zahraoui, says that he is a good teacher that has the best interest of the student´s future in mind.

¨I think he’s one of the better teachers in this school,¨ Zirpolo said.

Along with Zirpolo, other students believe that he is a good teacher and that he is good at what he does.

¨Mr. Z’s teaching is very in-depth and interesting. He is able to make extremely difficult concepts easy to grasp because of his ability to thoroughly explain the material. There is no doubt that Mr. Z is an amazing teacher, as he is able to relate each lesson to a real life common scenario. He is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in regards to explaining the material. One thing I really appreciate about Mr. Z is that he wants to see his students improve and succeed,¨ a student in his AP Calculus class said.

¨He gives us a lot of work, but in the long-term, it is meant to improve our performance. Sometimes he goes off track, which sometimes mentally drains me. Although he goes on tangents, overall he is a great teacher and I enjoy learning from him,¨ another one of his students that took his Geometry class said.

Photos: Emily Layola


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