LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Amy Zapata

Position: Fifth Grade Teacher
School: Creekside Elementary School
School District: School District U-46
City, State: Elgin, IL


Amy Zapata was nominated by a colleague who wished to remain anonymous.

Ms. Zapata is a LifeChanger! She does everything, and then some more. In the 2016-17 school year alone, she began Student Council, Safety Patrol, Girls and Boys Volleyball, Girls and Boys Basketball, Media Club, and sponsored Pennies for Pasta and Girls on the Run. In her spare time, she is making a school video. When students are struggling, she finds a way to help them. If a student in another class is struggling, she works with the other teacher to help the student. This year, she provided extra assistance for the family of a student who is homeless. For science, the kids wanted to build a catapult, and she made that happen. There isn't anything she won't try, and she works extremely hard to make sure her classroom is relevant and engaging for her students. She loves her job, and it shows every day!


Comments (60)


Judi Brownfield Posted 5 months ago

As Casting Director for the City of Elgin's largest outdoor event hosting over16K guests as well as its September Film Fest Red Carpet Director, I have seen how Amy engages the children she mentors in the best of ways in community endeavors. Always encouraging, she inspires their interest in contributing to their city. Volunteerism is not innate. It is learned. It takes a strong, positive example to embed character in our young. Amy is that strong, positive example. I so admire her spirit. A woman of worth indeed.

jamaya Posted 5 months ago

hi she was the best teacher she is helpful and she was the teacher i can count one also when i told her things she would fix it i am glad she was nominated

Debra E. Ross Posted 5 months ago

Amy is simply amazing! As the Secretary to the Principal at Creekside Elementary, I am blessed to have never ending interaction with her. She is always available to help anyone in need, fill in at the last minute while already wearing multiple hats and remain calm during any situation with an attitude of joy on her face and in her heart. Her comedic personality is infectious and will turn anyone's frown upside down.

Zamira Lopez Posted 6 months ago

Ms. Zapata is an awesome teacher. I'm very grateful for all the extra curricular activities, field trips and motivation she does for the students. It's hard to find a person like her. My son is very happy that he had her as a teacher.

Adam Horn Posted 6 months ago

It was such an honor to work with somebody as amazing as Amy. She brought an incredible energy to anything that she did and always had a way of making the best of the situation. Not only was Amy and incredible person to be around, but she also did an incredible job with her work. There are not many people in this world that have the passion, spirit, and personality of someone like Amy. I feel extremely privileged to have had the chance to have Amy in my life and wholeheartedly believe that she has changed my life for the better.

Cam Griffiths Posted 6 months ago

Having met Amy in Children's theater she has proven to be one of the most fun, caring, and generous people I have ever met. She is always working hard and she finds a way to bring that hard work ethic out of all of us too. She is always striving for excellence and because of her I am a better person.

Anna horn Posted 6 months ago

Hi Amy, you did an amazing job with the kids at CTE, your kindness and hard work didn't go unnoticed, my children also thought you were wonderful and did a fantastic job!! You deserve much acknowledgment. Anna Horn

Janet Posted 6 months ago

I will always be thankful for all that Amy has helped my daughter achieve. She's an amazing person.

Beverly Posted 6 months ago

Amy is a creative educator. She promotes a welcoming and student centered learning environment.

Nicole Lorenz Posted 6 months ago

I met Amy playing ball (softball, volleyball, basketball) as we turned from adolescents to teens, and I knew she would become a world-changer and the one to follow. I know if I came back to town and needed help in the middle of the night she would come in an instant. I am blessed to call her a friend.

Mary Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Zapata was my son's teacher, I can honestly say 5th grader has changes my son's perspective of school and learning, and had lots of fun while doing so. She answered any questions we had and made sure my son wasn't left behind. I can't thank her enough for changing our lives for a better learning experience and academic achievements he will have in the future. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students.

Ginny Comings Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata is an amazing human being. She strives to improve the lives of everyone she comes into contact with. I know if I ever need anything, all I need to do is ask and she'll make it happen. Amy also likes to have fun, and will draw others in for a good time for all. This nomination is well deserved!

Meredith Posted 6 months ago

Having amy in my life since I was in kindergarten has been a blessing and a privilege. When I wanted to play club volleyball, she set up a tutoring program for me to earn funds. When I just needed someone to talk to she was always willing to take time out of her CRAZY schedule for me. When my family had an unexpected crisis she literally moved out of her house so we could live there. Amy's been my coach, chauffeur, teacher, friend, Girl Scout leader, chef, part time mom, and much more. She really deserves this more than anyone

Claudia Harris Posted 6 months ago

Amy is awesome! Her ability to communicate and relate to people no matter their age, or where they come from is admirable. She is always the first one willing to help and she does it with a smile on her face, and with a wonderful attitude. Finally Amy practices empathy on a daily basis, which in itself makes her a wonderful human being.

Joanna Sharp Posted 6 months ago

She is the example we should all aspire to be. No one better for all kids! So happy for her....

Lisa Cartee Posted 6 months ago

I have had the privilege of working with Amy for the last two years at Creekside. This wonder woman does it all! She wears many hats at school. She is a teacher leader, role model, educator, cheerleader, social worker, parent support, and Friend.

Debbie Posted 6 months ago

I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than Amy. She is such an inspiration to others through teaching, coaching, serving and mentoring. I have had the privilege of knowing Amy since our children's elementary days and there was nothing she would not do for the students, parents and staff. She was the PTO president, coached, the girl scout leader, and room parent all while a student herself. She is a natural-born teacher and I shake my head in amazement when she talks about all of the activities she does at her school. Amy loves to spend time with kids and young adults and they genuinely love to be with her because she is such a great champion of every child she comes across. She has taken big groups of kids on mission trips and is always going somewhere in her coaching responsibilities for volleyball. She is the reason my son got involved in CTE several years ago and a contributing factor in him joining his high school volleyball team this year. Amy always has a smile on her face and makes everyone around her laugh with joy. She is an amazing woman and this award would be well-deserved.

Amy Wemken Posted 6 months ago

Mrs. Zapata is a great teacher and very caring and involved with many students. Touching their lives in ways that helps each student. She goes above and beyond every day making sure her students are well cared for. She has organized many activities for the students. She is definitely a life changer.

Beccy Posted 6 months ago

When presented with what may seem a fearful situation Amy responds in faith- " it will work out". In 2016-2017 not only did Amy do all that is listed above she and her family sacrificially and generously provided a home for at least 4 children that desperately needed rest, refuge and restoration. She provided a place of encouragement and support that is giving a new life to these children and families. I have known Amy for about 8 years. She was a girl scout leader coach and fellow parent to my daughters. She has an ability and is willing to call out and work in Justice and Mercy. Encouraging those in her circle of influence through saying and doing both the tough things and the uplifting things She is willing to speak truth and life into what she sees as the talents and abilities of others. She is willing to be truthful. She is always looking for a way to give so that others may have a new life. She cares deeply for people and it shows through the way she lives every day. She is a life changer

Deb Sensor Posted 6 months ago

What a perfect candidate for this award. Amy is generous, selfless and tons of fun. She has coached my kids in volleyball, softball and track. Girl Scout leader, chauffeur and parent teacher committee president are other hats she has worn. If something needs to be done Amy is the first to volunteer. No one multi-tasks better then Amy. Not sure how she balances it all. She is amazing with all kids so teaching is the perfect avenue for her to share her gift. My family has been blessed to have her in our lives. Way to go Amy!

Rachel Kline Posted 6 months ago

Amy without a doubt deserves life changer of the year. She never ever puts herself first always everyone around her. She is so compassionate, funny, caring, giving, being around her makes you happy. She goes above and beyond to help people when they are in need and isn't afraid to change things for the better!

Anonymous Posted 6 months ago

I have yet to see Mrs.Zapata have a difficult time with any student she encounters. When she has students that may be challenging in other environments, she meets them where they are to help them see that someone really does care abiut them and their learning. It's amazing to see how students respond to her and I am very grateful to the individual who started life changer for her, as I often think she should be nominated for educator of the year for her creativity, caring and response to students.

Dawn Bushaus Posted 6 months ago

I had the pleasure of working with Amy at Children's Theatre of Elgin. She is without a doubt one of the most compassionate people I know. Amy is ALWAYS willing to take action in her school, community, church, and everywhere else to help others. She is more than deserving of a life-changer award.

Angie Casebeer Posted 6 months ago

Amy is an excellent teacher and makes such an impact on the students in our school. My son, Jack, was in her class and grew so much this past year, both academically and socially. Amy makes learning fun and uses different activities to keep the kids involved and challenged. She also organized many extracurricular clubs, which both of my boys enjoyed. One of my favorite things about Amy is that she truly cares about her students and makes each one feel special.

Isabella Romano Posted 6 months ago

I honestly believe Amy is super woman. Every moment of her day is packed with something meaningful and she juggles a number of projects at once flawlessly. I imagine she must get tired, but it never shows! She is never anything but kind, patient, and selfless.

Jessica Vasalos Posted 6 months ago

Amy is one of the most generous people I have ever met. She is also an outstanding motivation for youth. She listens and always gives them sound advice. She is trustworthy, dependable, and truly an inspiration.

Sam Posted 6 months ago

Amy pushes you to your full potential while making sure you are having fun!

Web Posted 6 months ago

Amy is one of a kind. She has been a wonderful role model for so many in our community. I am lucky to have spent so much time in her care and under her tutelage as a young person growing up in Elgin.

Terry Posted 6 months ago

Was the Best teacher i had she always supported me with her kind words,Thank you miss zapata i miss you!

Mary Michaud Posted 6 months ago

I cannot think of any other teacher at Creekside that is more deserving of this nomination than Ms.Zapata. My daughter said this was the best year ever at school thanks to her awesome teacher! She was always very excited about all the cool projects and activities going on in the classroom. Ms.Zapata's way with the 5th grade kids made it fun to learn. She was happy to go to school every day and was actually bummed out when she had to stay home sick, she didn't want to miss out on anything. I only wish I had a teacher like her in 5th grade! Personally I don't know how she was able to juggle all the activities she was involved in this school year, she is truly a "super" teacher! We are crossing our fingers and toes that my daughter gets her as a teacher for her final year at Creekside.

Gloria Lopez Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata is my colleague and is very helpful with students and staff. She has a way of understanding students and bringing the best out of each and every one of them. She is very active, funny, caring, witty, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Congrats Amy.

Heide Buckman Posted 6 months ago

Amy is the most selfless individual. She is always looking how to make life better for those around her. She truly is a life changer!!! Go Amy!!!

Janine Martin Posted 6 months ago

Amy is the most caring, compassionate person I have ever met. She is always looking to help others and puts nearly everyones needs before her own. She is creative and witty and has helped shape so many people (including myself) into who they are today. I don’t know a single person more deserving of this award!

catie francek Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata is the best volleyball coach I have ever had. I have been doing volleyball for 6 years and I learned more from her in 1 year of volleyball than I did in all the other 5 years ive done it. She not only made practices fun but she made them worth-while. I always came to practice energetic and even if i was having a hard day, she never failed to put a smile on my face. She wasn't just a volleyball coach to me, she was so much more. She taught me to work hard but also enjoy every second on the volleyball court and thats what made this year so special. The connection she had with her players i believe no other coach had. She wasn't just there to teach them how to be great volleyball players, but she was there to create amazing individuals. I can honestly say we all walked out of that last tournament feeling like we succeeded even if we didn't always win and thats all thanks to coach amy. She showed us good sportsmanship, how to be an honest individual, and how to act with other players we have'nt gotten to know. She was an amazing leader and I can see that she not only puts forth this effort into her coaching career but also into teaching, and that truley is an accomplishment that should be recognized.

Ann Sparks Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata is truly worthy of the nomination & should be awarded the title of "Life Changer of the Year." I have known Amy for approximately nine years. From the time, I met Amy, she has been the leader of everything. She does everything & is there for everyone. I know Amy from her leadership role at Children's Theatre of Elgin(CTE) & Fox Valley Theatre (FVT) Co. She has either produced, coordinated, or single-handedly run almost every one of the 20 productions my daughter has performed in. The unbelievable thing about Amy is that she does everything on a volunteer basis. She has always been the go to person to handle big issues such as ensuring that the performances are spectacular & go off without a hitch....to personal issues such as counseling a child that may have felt bullied. During the time I have known Amy, I have also been aware that she did so much more outside of the CTE family, such as coaching. She is also a fantastic teacher. She is so deserving of this honor.

Meghan Sarubbi Posted 6 months ago

I was able to work with Amy for one year. In would say she went way beyond what her role is when it comes to being a teacher. She was always looking to connect and help every student. She would connect with each student and listen to what they had to say. She always came to work with a smile. She always made learning fun and looked for ways to teach skills in a differwnt way to reach all her students. When it comes to being a teammate I enjoyed working with her. She also always willing to take on new roles and activities within our team. I was sad when we lost her from our school, but continue to work with her professionally. We worked on the science curriculum and we did our student growth together. I am so happy to see others see what our school saw in her. I am so happy for you, Amy. Keep being you.

Karla Vazquez Posted 6 months ago

I worked with Amy three years ago at Ronald O'Neal Elementary School. She came to form part of our 5th grade team late at that year. She did awesome, they way she interact and impact her students lives was unique. She made our days better, her character is best quality!!!

Michael Morel Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata is one amazing person! Growing up she was like a second mother to me in my theater program. She knows how to help people out and yet have a great time. She is always doing so much and keeps up with it. She is so involved in everything she does! She deserves this more than anyone!

Deajeion lewis Posted 6 months ago

Amy is my aunt she is the best aunt ever she impacted my life by watching me when I was a baby and always being there for me. She bought me my first iPod that I lost and my second ipod which I also broke but she is still the best aunt ever love you amy thank you. Shes the best aunt ever thank you again and I hope she can win

McKayla Babcock Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata has impacted my life incredibly, as a player and as a person. I met her through her daughter from being on the same team at Topflight volleyball club. Unfortunately I have no had the honor to have her as a coach but when I do find a chance to see her she always gives me pointers on how to get to the ball faster. Amy is a very happy and funny lady and always tries to find the fun in everything she does. She is such an incredible woman that is very inspiring and always brings laughter into a room with her. Thank you for everything that you have taught me Amy, I could not think of anyone else that deserves this nomination.

Mary Grace Martens Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata is one of most kind hearted people I have ever met! She is always willing to help someone out with anything while simultaneously putting a smile on thier face! She is part of what made my experience at FVTC such a memeorable one! Whether it was being goofy backstage or spending hours upon hours building a set! This woman is truly a gem! Thanks for being you Amy!

Anonymous Posted 6 months ago

Amy goes above and beyond the call of duty! She is an excellent teacher and colleague. She deserves this more than anyone I could think of.

Allison Posted 6 months ago

I've worked with Amy through Children's Theater of Elgin where she has produced and been the production manager of several shows. Before she got her job at Creekside she also subbed for my second grade class (and was always the kid's favorite sub). Amy is completely selfless and every action that she takes. She has lived her whole life giving as much as she can to others. If there was anything Amy could ever do to help another human being, she would be first in line.

Inga Suceska Posted 6 months ago

Amy is one of the the best human beings I've ever met. She genuinely made me love volleyball again and makes sure that we all get positive criticism during practice. Other than volleyball, she's like a second mom to me and she deserves this award times the universe!!!

Nina Teves Posted 6 months ago

If there is anyone who deserves this honor, it's Amy. As my volleyball coach at Top Flight, Amy made my experience so much better and helped me become a better player. She is dedicated to anything she is a part of; from the school musicals she would help put together to angsty teen girl volleyball teams. She worked everyone hard and to their full potential, and made sure she could do all she could to get us motivated for success. I couldn't have asked for a better coach, and for a better experience, and if it wasn't for Amy's part in my volleyball season, I can't say that I would've had as great of a time without her. She continues to be supportive of all her past players and proves to be an incredible person inside and out. And all of this she does just as a coach; I cannot imagine how enormous of an impact Amy has as a teacher, and all the other roles she takes on outside of Top Flight. I'm glad that in my lifetime I was able to meet someone so wonderful. Thanks, Amy.

Amy Olcott Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata had a huge influence on my daughter! Her creative teaching style encouraged her to think outside the box! Mrs. Zapata is a wonderful, encouraging mentor to all students and a fantastic role model!

Cindy Placko Posted 6 months ago

Amy always puts kids first. She was an integral part why my children had an amazing, positive experience being part of CTE (Children's Theater of Elgin). She is encouraging and supportive for all children. I would be lying if I didn't say, kids flock to be with her. They want to please her and be recognized by her. Amazingly, Amy can call everyone by name regardless of how many students are participating. In addition to rocking the world of children, her enthusiasm is contagious to adults. She draws adults into wanting to help her. Maybe we think, the children will think as highly of us as they do her. Or maybe we want to please her just as much. If everyone could be as selfless and giving as Amy is, there would be a world filled with love. AMY ZAPATA IS A LIFECHANGER!

Cameron Posted 6 months ago

Amy is one of the most genuinely caring person I have ever known. She goes above and beyond to help in any way she can. She will handle any situation/circumstance that is thrown her way, and I will forever be grateful for having the privilege of working with her. She has, and will continue to, done amazing things. I look up to her so much. She is a beautiful human, inside and out.

Samantha Woodruff Posted 6 months ago

Amy is amazing and she let me stay with her and her family when my sister had her heart transplant. I'm so grateful for Amy

Madison Posted 6 months ago

Amy was always like a second mom to me and everyone around me! She treated me well, even when I was in my crappy teenage stages (which is definitely hard to do). She always had words of wisdom to give me and my teammates, and she worked us to make us the best team we could be! I appreciate everything she did for me and for us. She definitely deserves this award.

Michele Huske Posted 6 months ago

Amy was not only one of the most supportive and eager to volunteering parents I every had as her child's teacher but also later on, an amazing student teacher. She went way beyond what a student teacher does to be involved in the students' lives! Amy also gave so much of her time and talents to the families of the students and the school's events and activities. Not to mention, she was absolutely the student teacher that I've had the most fun with in my 25 years. She changed the lives of my students and mine by making learning fun and igniting a passion for giving your best!

Heide Buckman Posted 6 months ago

Amy is the most selfless individual. She is always looking how to make life better for those around her. She truly is a life changer!!! Go Amy!!!

Wendy Miranda Posted 6 months ago

My son has a great year having Mrs. Zapata as his teacher, he said she is like him.... SPORTY and she understands his hyperactivity. He really enjoy the opportunity to have her as a coach in volley and basket ball.

Jenny Posted 6 months ago

Amy is great at her job loves her kids she would make a great life changer

Mary Becker Posted 6 months ago

What a deserving honor to be nominated for. I have known Amy for some time. All that is listed above is only part of the things this girl has done. In every part of her life she touches kids lives & changes them for the better. Whether it is at club volleyball, Children's Theatre of Elgin, sports teams at St Johns, Youth group at church ....I can go on & on. She is a force to change lives & I'm so proud that she has a degree to teach children. Thank you to those who have recognized her talents. I have seen these traits for years. I am her mom & I am so proud of the nomination for this award. It is well deserved. (To those who say "Oh she has to say that about her daughter". All I can say is you don't know me. I don't dish out praise for nothing. Thank you so much to Creekside for letting Amy start these helping programs.

Taylor Edwards Posted 6 months ago

Growing up in theatre, I had the opportunity to have Amy produce many of the shows I was in. Amy is a lighthearted, warm, caring, and kind person. She made my experience the best it could have possibly been. She always went above and beyond for everyone. She puts her heart into all she does and is one of the most selfless people I have the pleasure of knowing.

Adrienne Posted 6 months ago

She's a great person who loves kids. Her work with CTE is where my son and I met her, from day one she was a positive influence on me and my son. There is nothing she wouldn't do for a person.

Lisa Eby Posted 6 months ago

Amy Zapata is full of good character! She is a motivator, teacher and life-long learner, always looking for opportunities to bring new ideas to her students whether in a classroom or playing field. It takes a village, and we are glad Amy has been a stellar citizen of ours! She is so deserving of this award.

Heide Hofmann Posted 6 months ago

Amy is definitely one of those teachers that all principals want on their staff. I was blessed to teach with her for a short time and would have loved to be part of committees and sports with her.

Conni Niggemann Posted 6 months ago

Amy is amazing teacher! She goes above and beyond in everything she does! She is also an amazing co-worker!