Mr. Z Goes to 6th Grade

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life81 Comments
If you’ve been following along with the Zielske Family Story for the past year, you’ll know that Dan just completed his first year as an elementary school teacher, leaving behind a 27-year career in the coffee biz, a biz that kept this family with food on our table, health insurance cards in our pockets and a steady supply of superb caffeinated products at our disposal.

Following an exciting and enriching albeit exhausting first year of teaching 5th grade, Dan’s contract was not renewed because of declining enrollment. There simply weren’t enough incoming 5th graders to warrant a third teacher. He was the third teacher.

Luckily, he had a lot of fellow teachers and a principal or two in his corner, and I am thrilled to tell you that he has just accepted a 6th grade position in the same district.

We are both so relieved to know what he will be doing for the 2017-2018 school  year.

And now, honey, you kick your feet up, get caught up on all those books you’ve been wanting to read and ENJOY your summer. This changing careers in midlife is not for the faint of heart and you are meeting it with aplomb!

The Summer Sale continues at Designer Digitals and today ALL pocket scrapbooking products are on sale for 30% off. I have a boat load of cards for pocket scrapping. Check them out and save! Be sure to use the code SAVE20 at checkout to take an additional 20% off your purchase.



Cathy ZielskeMr. Z Goes to 6th Grade

81 Comments on “Mr. Z Goes to 6th Grade”

  1. #3

    Teachers, a principal or two and a boatload of scrappers in his corner! So happy and aren’t those sixth graders blessed?!

    Happy rest of summer!

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      It is on his list to do! And I will ask him to start working on it. He takes a bit longer to write stuff that me. 😉

  2. #7
    Jennifer Shimer

    So happy it worked out! I changed careers when I turned 40 and it was the scariest, most rewarding thing I did! See – life isn’t over when you’re mid-life – it’s just beginning! #nevertoolate

  3. #10

    As a retired teacher, I really felt like D. would be hired again…it’s that tricky numbers game…which seems to be played each and every year…it is nerve wracking for sure. Enjoy the rest of the summer…I always felt like July 4th was almost the end of my vacation, because as soon as that holiday happened…it was back to planning and organizing, and formulating plans. Teaching is a humbling and rewarding profession…and one that brings some of the best families and friends into your life. Hooray! It’s great to be able to start each year with renewed goals, new spaces, and places, and people, and new vigor. So excited for another new adventure in life for your entire family!

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      It has most definitely been a humbling experience for him. I hope to have him write a post about it, but I have never seen him work as hard at anything. He’s had moments of doubt, and moments of real joy… it has been a roller coaster just watching it from the sidelines!

  4. #11
    Laura in Oregon

    What a relief! As the wife of a teacher who has been in the same boat (although it has been a few years) I empathize with the worry and the relief! Now you can both enjoy the summer more fully!

  5. #13

    That’s fantastic news for you all! We definitely need a guest post from Dan. After all, we had one from Aidan a while back … which will only leave Cole to contribute … and surely he wouldn’t want to be left out, would he?!

  6. #14
    Kelley Hartnett

    I was so bummed to hear Dan wasn’t renewed, and really happy to know he found a sixth grade position! Congrats to your family.

  7. #15

    Congratulations to, Dan. I have no doubt he will be an amazing 6th grade teacher. I help with 6th grade math. 6th graders are so much fun!

    I too would love to read a blog post from Dan. I am so curious about his experience last year as a new teacher. I too am in grad school to be a teacher. My first profession was a dental hygienist. I have a semester of classes this fall and then student teach in the spring. Could I ask where he went? I am attending St. Scholastica that has a satellite campus in St. Paul. Anything tips or insight he has would be wonderful. Are there certain things he wished he had learned more about? I feel grad school so far has been a lot of classes that really won’t help us truly know how to teach. I am thankful I work at a school now because I feel like it is there that I am truly learning how to teach students.
    I don’t want to find a full time job my first year out because my daughter will be a senior and I don’t want to be over my head as a first year teacher and not be able to enjoy her last year of high school.

    Sorry for such a long comment. I guess I am really interested to hear what Dan has to say.

    1. #15.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Wow, Sara, good for you! And yes, Dan knows I would like him to write a post and I will most definitely be having him read through these comments.

      He went to Hamline for grad school. And I know there are things he wished he had known for sure. Good call on waiting until your daughter is out before you start. Dan worked most days from 6:45 (when he left the house) until 6:30 when he would arrive home… then he ate dinner and most nights, went into his office area and planned for the next day for another hour or two each night. And on weekends, too. It was a lot for sure.

  8. #16

    Congrats! I was just thinking about your post where you mentioned making a thank you card for him to send and wondering how it all worked out. I’m so happy for all of you that he got the position! Those are some lucky students! I look forward to reading his blog post

    Each time I read your posts, I think of how cool it would be to be your neighbor. I love your sense of humor and how you keep things so REAL!

  9. #17

    That is great news. From what you’ve posted, Dan seems to bring so much enthusiasm and creativity to teaching that it would have been a shame for students to miss out on that.

  10. #20

    So happy for Dan! What a huge relief it must be to know you have a teaching job all set for the next year! As a former teacher, summer for me was a great time to plan ahead for the upcoming year, so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed come September…along with some much needed relaxation as well to recharge those teaching batteries….
    Have a great summer, and enjoy the extra time you have with Dan!

  11. #21

    Great news for the Zielskes—and Dan especially! So glad he made it to the next level (5th to 6th). Maybe he’ll have some of the same students? My mom taught 5th and 6th grades for many years, and they were her favorites.

  12. #23
    Amy Myers

    Congrats, Dan! I don’t know how your schools are set up. Will Dan have some of the same students? My third graders are always asking me to move to fourth. Teaching is such an amazing adventure!

  13. #24

    It takes a while to move up the seniority ladder to not be declared surplus in many school district. Took me only 8 years. (Yes sarcasm) What it does do is give you a taste of all the ages and helps you decide which one you like the most. Only issue is, is that you feel like a first year teacher every year….and that is exhausting. Best of luck on the new class.

  14. #27

    This is such good news! I’ve been thinking about y’all but I had a feeling it would all work out. So glad to hear you guys are set for an enjoyable summer.

  15. #28
    Carolyn W

    That’s so great! Congrats to Mr Zielske! So inspiring to change careers a bit later in life; however, that seems to be the norm now.

  16. #29

    That’s great news! Is that middle school/Jr high in your area? It’s 6-8 in our area (mid-South) and I think when kiddos have a good experience in 6th grade, it takes them all the way to graduation. It’s a bit scary leaving elementary school. 6th grade really grows you up. Good luck!

  17. #31

    After 25 years in the electric utility biz I became a school PR and comms person. Best move ever. But now I know just enough about education to appreciate the predicament Mr. Z found himself in this spring, and the changes that will come this fall. So glad for cheerleaders in one’s corner, and for new opportunities. Now, enjoy some personal time, because I’ve learned first-hand that teachers don’t really ‘get the summer off!’

  18. #32

    I am so happy to read that Dan has a teaching job for next year. My husband retired after 40 years in a high school science classroom. While one does not get wealthy in the education profession, he never doubted his career choice. And it was a great fit for our family – which now includes two of our three children following in his footsteps. Enjoy the rest of your summer – as you breath a big sigh of relief!

  19. #35
    Debbie Radtke

    Hi Cathy. I wrote a comment to this post on my phone and asked a question. I’m not sure why it didn’t show up in the comment section here (I’m looking at my computer). Will you still see it there – it’s the only comment there. It’s about printing out your 8.5 x 11 templates and having some cut off on the bottom. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong. Thanks.

    1. #35.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Debbie! I don’t see another comment except this one but am happy to try and help. When you print, is there an option to Fit to Window, or Fit to Area?

      I can’t troubleshoot all printers, lol, as I personally use Epson right now. Email me at and I’m happy to see what I can do!

  20. #38

    Congrats! and thanks for the instagram reminder of this post – I always love your posts, but I don’t always remember to check in here. 🙂

  21. #39

    Ha ha ha ha… kick back and relax? When starting a new grade level? That’s a hoot!

    For then to look out for him like that means he’s a gem. That is fantastic!!!! Sixth graders are fun to teach.

  22. #40

    As a fellow teacher I know all too well the struggles with declining enrollment and job transfers (and lay offs.). I realize this has likely been difficult navigating the uncertainty. I’m so glad for Dan and your family and the students who will have him next year. My husband is an upper-elementary teacher and a positive male influence comes with an added bonus to the job.

  23. #44

    Congrats to Dan. Seems to me that the district figured out what a great teacher he is and decided that they couldn’t lose him! Way to go Dan!

  24. #47
    Judi Church

    Yay!!! This is karma. Meant to be. So happy to hear this news. Now you can relax and enjoy your summer (while Dan prepares all new lesson plans). ???❤️

  25. #53
    Sue Williams

    I’m thrilled for you! What a great role model he is – so glad his leaf of faith is being rewarded 🙂

  26. #55

    So excited for Dan. I work with 6th, 7th and 8th graders at a middle school as a librarian. I love the sixth grade age. They are so engaging and interesting. By the time they get to 8th they become “too cool for school”.
    I am looking forward to your up coming class. You are an awesome teacher in your own right.

  27. #56

    My son is a teacher in St. Paul. He will be starting his 5th year at the high school level. He just graduated from Hamlin with his masters in May. I have seen all the work and long hours these teachers put in to their careers and I must say I have a new respect for all their efforts. Summer break means being home with his 2 year old daughter which he totally loves! Great to see more male teachers out there.

  28. #57

    I’m so happy that he found a position locally! Don’t let those 6th graders push him around!

    But sad that you won’t be emigrating to Tennessee. ;(

  29. #60

    Congratulations to Dan and to the rest of the Zielskes for supporting him during times of change. Maybe he would rather do a video interview than write something? Just a thought.

  30. #62
    Kathryn Whittaker

    My sister teaches 6th grade at a local middle school. Because the sixth grade is in the middle school, it is more like being in Jr. high or high school, in that she only teaches one subject – science. She loves it, and the kids love her! Congratulations to Dan! What an awesome difference he is making in the lives of some of our young people!

  31. #64

    So awesome! I’ve been teaching for 21 years, with the last 11 being in 6th grade! If he needs anything, I have no problem helping him out. I absolutely adore 6th graders.

  32. #65

    You are right, it is not for the faint of heart. I’ve been there twice in the last 9 years. I ended up sub-ing in the school system (which I was trying to get into anyway). Can I tell you that I love it. It So congrats on the new job Dan.

    P.S. Sixth graders scare me.

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