I'm profoundly honored and humbled to receive this award. Excellent teaching is the result of the synergy of all stakeholders. I accept this award for my students who brave their insecurities daily to contribute to meaningful discussions, for our communities’ understanding of the importance of productive struggle, for my colleagues and administration for their unconditional support, and for our school board and Superintendent’s office for enacting policies that encourage classroom innovation.

Aziz Zahraoui Portsmouth, VA | 7-12, Mathematics, 2019

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Aziz Zahraoui has taught mathematics for 15 years, spending his entire career at Churchland High School. He currently teaches Advanced Placement Calculus to 11th and 12th grade students and Geometry to 9th-12th grade students. Aziz uses open-ended questions to guide students to discover the beauty of mathematics. He believes in everyone’s innate ability to discover that beauty for themselves, and therefore assumes the role of a facilitator of high-level mathematical discussions that encourage everyone’s participation while promoting precise mathematical discourse. He always tries to use innovative strategies to fuel students’ curiosity about the mathematics behind natural phenomena. He introduced drones into the classroom, and took students skydiving indoors to experience free fall. Aziz’s love for teaching mathematics has led to tutoring high school and college students who struggle with the subject, as well as teaching mathematics classes at the local community college. Students have appreciated Aziz’s ability to explain mathematical concepts with clarity and ease. Aziz is particularly passionate about helping students acquire 21st-century skills to help them become competitive in the global workforce. He organizes teams to participate in the math/works math modeling challenge, helping them use mathematical modeling to solve real life problems. Aziz is a consultant with the National Math and Science Initiative and a member of the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Aziz received his B.S. in computer science from Old Dominion University and received a master’s in mathematics education from Western Governors University. He holds a Virginia teaching license in secondary mathematics and computer science.