By Mithat Gashi/
Etleva Zeqo (Pazari), an Albanian American teacher and a member of Vatra’s Orlando branch, was honored with the “Teacher of the Year” award by Columbia Elementary School, where she has been working for ten years.
Columbia Elementary is one of the 123 elementary schools of the Orange County Public Schools in Florida, the 10th largest school district in the United States and the fourth largest in Florida, serving about 184,000 students. Columbia Elementary, which honored Mrs. Zeqo on October 3rd, serves about 1,100 students.
Mrs. Zeqo has shown leadership to the school, commitment to her students and to the teaching profession. “The successes, dedication, and enthusiasm of my students make my job meaningful and rewarding,” said Eva. Leading the students to success is Etleva’s motto. She believes in teaching students to work hard and to set and reach goals. Etleva, also known by her nickname Eva, said that her student achievement is enhanced because she engages them in complex thinking; she differentiates instruction to meet the needs of all learners; and she makes content relevant to what students already know.
During the last four years, Mrs. Zeqo has been the fifth grade team leader and has worked collaboratively with other teachers on aligning curriculum to standards, preparing authentic assessments, and looking at student work to make adjustments to instruction.
In her classroom, Mrs. Zeqo proudly displays the Albanian flag next to the flag of the United States. She keeps a collection of her students’ work made with the Albanian flag colors given to her on special occasions. “Lots of memories go through my mind seeing how my students grow, learn, and build self- confidence,” said Eva.
Mrs. Zeqo came to the United States sixteen years ago. She is the mother of three children. Her oldest daughter, Nensi, a recipient of the Vatra Scholarship, is a freshman at Valencia Community College in Olrando, Florida. Amber, a 5th grader, is the Student Council President at Columbia Elementary School; and Eileen attends kindergarten.
Eva Zeqo (Pazari) comes from a prominent Albanian family, counting fourteen consecutive generations of spiritual guides who have devoted themselves to serving God and Country by preaching peace, love, freedom, and justice.
Eva is active in her community. She is a member of the Vatra-the Pan Albanian Federation of America, which was established in Boston in 1912.
Eva’s teaching career started at a middle school in Tirana in 1993. After she taught for a year at the “Hoxha Tasin” middle school, she became an assistant director and translator at Turgut Ozal School, a high performing comprehensive school in Tirana, where Eva worked until 1998.
Prior to joining Columbia Elementary, Eva worked as a preschool teacher at Aloma Kids and Kids Love us in Orlando, Florida.
Etleva Zeqo earned a bachelor degree from Aleksander Xhuvani University in 1993 and a second bachelor’s of science in education with honors (CUM LAUDE) from the University of Central Florida, where she also completed the requirements for the Florida Teacher Certificate.
By Mithat Gashi/