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Mr. Zender: The Man of the People

posted Jan 29, 2014, 6:56 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 30, 2014, 8:25 AM by Unknown user ]
Alisa Warren

With the title of guidance counselor, Mr. Zender isn’t just the man in the tiny room across from the cafeteria; he’s the go-to guy for all Van Buren students’ scheduling needs, as well as the seniors’ college search guru.

Photo courtesy of: (fair use)

After graduating as a proud Buckeye from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in education, he taught an industrial arts class at Miller City High School, where he even had VB’s current psychology and history teacher Mr. Vennekotter as a student (Mr. V’s feature can be found on The Knight Writer here).

“We did a lot of architectural drawings and a lot of woodworking projects, and a lot of computer based education during the last few years when I was in the classroom,” said Zender, describing his career as a teacher at Miller City, which lasted 19 years.

He then earned his master’s degree in guidance counseling from the University of Dayton, and was the guidance counselor at Arcadia for 2 years before coming to Van Buren, where he has been counseling for the past 12 years.

Interacting with numerous students throughout the day, he described the most rewarding part about his job as “working with the kids individually.”

With a passion for working with the students at Van Buren, he is also a proud father of four children.

“I’m pretty involved in my kids’ activities,” said Zender. “I have two in college and two in high school, so we’re pretty busy in those things. I guess I really don’t have any hobbies other than going to ball games constantly.”

Having great enthusiasm for his job, he said he had a dream of going on this career path.

“My mom was a teacher,” said Zender, “and that kind of gave me a direction to go, so I think I always had an interest in education.”

As someone who achieved his dream job, he provided some advice for students as they enter the real world.

“You’ve got to live with your morals and values, which are what define you,” said Zender. “Most of the kids here have pretty good morals and values, and as long as you continue that, you’ll be a good person. Be yourself and don’t change for anyone.”

What is the most interesting thing that’s happened on the job? I could write a book about the things that have happened in my career. I can’t narrow it down to one thing, so I guess you’ll have to buy the book in a few years.

What would your last meal be? I’m a pizza guy. I would be happy with a pizza. My kids are really picky and they just want pepperoni, and I like mine loaded. Any pizza from anywhere with a lot of stuff on it.

If you could teleport to anywhere in the world, where would it be (past or present)? I think I’d like to go back when I was a kid to see how it really see the kind of kid I was.

Favorite nickname? I was in a fraternity for 4 years. That’s not gonna happen (laughing). When your name starts with a Z, a lot of things can happen.

What’s your superpower of choice? I don’t think I’d want to fly...I’m not a flying person. I think super-human strength would be cool. There’s a lot of times that you can use your strength in positive ways. I think it’d be neat to “be the man.”

Who would you choose to play you in a movie? I would say a young Clint Eastwood. I think we have a lot in common.