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Teacher Spotlight: Deb Zanger

Meet St. Luke Art teacher, resident prop maker, and illustrator extraordinaire, Deb Zanger.

What is your educational background?

Except for kindergarten and some college courses my education has been primarily in the Catholic school system. My childhood parish was St. Eugene where my siblings and I attended first through eighth grade. For high school my sister and I attended Alvernia High School for girls, which was my mother’s alma mater. I attended several different schools during my college undergraduate years. My father passed away suddenly after my freshman year of college so I decided to remain home to help my mother, work, and take occasional courses. My junior and senior years were spent at Quincy University in Quincy, IL, where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art. I completed my Masters program at Dominican University, where I earned a MS in Education. The year I graduated from the Masters program, two of my children also graduated from their schools. It was a big celebration year for the Zanger family!

What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at St. Luke?

Prior to becoming a parent/teacher, I worked in an office while Mr. Zanger was working on a Masters program in Minnesota and also upon our return to Chicago.  My teaching was mainly with my children until the younger ones went to school. I was a teacher’s aide then a preschool teacher at a Catholic school in Des Plaines. I decided to go into teaching because I felt I could use my creative problem-solving skills to help children. Many in my family have been teachers so, I suppose I have followed their lead.

Why do you believe in Catholic education?

I believe in Catholic education because students learn about their faith, about responsibility and service while exploring core subjects. Catholic education is very family orientated. I love being part of the St. Luke community because they really enjoy being together for faith, service, academics, athletics, and just plain fun. People freely share their time and resources in the St. Luke community.

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at St. Luke?

I am the moderator of Art Club for students in grades three through eight. It’s exciting every year to find that more and more students want to express themselves through art.  In the past, I have been a part of the Speech Club (and these clubs enjoy interacting with each other for props/costumes/support.)

Will you share a great success that you have had in teaching?

I was excited to find out that two Bearcat alumni had their artwork picked for exhibit in the Illinois High School Art Show last spring, with a “Best of Show” awarded to one. It’s so great to think that maybe a seed was planted here at St. Luke that spurred these students to explore creatively. But, the great thing about my work is that I often see the “lightbulb moment” as someone finds a different way to look at something and solve a problem.

What do you like to do outside of the classroom?

I love to explore all things about the city and am thrilled to find that we currently live very close to where ancestors on both sides of my family worked and lived in the late 1800’s. I just finished illustrating a children’s book that my aunt wrote about our grandparent’s friendship and service with Mother Cabrini. I definitely get excited about explorations in genealogy. I am intrigued by people, place, and things in this great city.

What is your favorite book/song/band/movie and why?

My favorite book is ‘All the Light We Can Not See’ written by Anthony Doerr. It is the most beautifully written book I have ever read. It is a work of historical fiction, set in France during WWII, about a blind French girl and a young German boy. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I tend to read a lot of historical fiction, all things Abraham Lincoln, and anything that our daughter, Michaela, recommends. (She’s a voracious reader.).

Do you have any pets or any relatives who are famous?

We are great pet lovers and have two rescued dogs. I think we will always have dogs in the house because they are such a pleasure. My aunt, Dr. Celeste Raspanti, is an author and playwright who has published several one-act and full-length plays.

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