Andalusia Chamber recognizes Tyler Zessin as Teacher of the Year at annual banquet

Published 2:45 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

The Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year is Tyler Zessin at W.S. Harlan Elementary School.

Tyler is in his seventh year as a pre-K-sixth grade physical education teacher at W.S. Harlan and is also the head coach for the Florala Wildcats’ baseball team.

“This honor gives me a world of gratitude. I pride myself on being a PE teacher who teaches fundamentals and who is not just another coach who rolls out a ball. I am thankful the Chamber selected me for this honor because I know others have stood up for me to get me to this place, and that’s incredibly humbling and encouraging,” Zessin said.

He has been the youth basketball coordinator for W.S. Harlan since 2017 and head baseball coach at Florala since 2018. Under his leadership, there are 140 students in the program for the 2023-2024 school year. He has overseen bus routes for WSH and FHS since 2021 and organizes each route with pick-up and drop-off times. Zessin led his 2023 varsity baseball team to an area championship and the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs with a 14-4 record.

“I was born and raised in the town of Florala, so having the opportunity to teach, coach, and, most importantly, build relationships with our students is the highlight of my profession. I understand where these kids come from and some of the challenges they may face. I treat both my students at W.S. Harlan and players at Florala the same, with some tough-love. I believe, as both a teacher and a coach, it is important to establish discipline so learning can take place, but to also love on the kids so they can build a trust with you. That’s what makes my job so great: the relationships I have been able to build with our students and relationships I hope will last a lifetime, even longer than any particular skills taught on any particular day,” he said.

After he received his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Troy University, he completed his master’s in Physical Education and also an add-on certificate in Educational Administration from The University of West Alabama.

Tyler is a current member of the National Education Association and the Alabama Conference of Educators and also serves as the youth recreation coordinator at Lockhart Baptist Church. He previously served on the Florala Recreation Board from 2017 until 2021. Second grade students at W.S. Harlan selected him as the Super Citizen Award recipient presented at Covington County Schools in 2019.

“The support of my WSH, home, and church families along with my friends in the community means the most to me because these are all people with whom I’ve surrounded myself. They are driven people with the same goals for our students as I strive to have, and we can all work together as a team encouraging, uplifting, and motivating both our students and ourselves. The school is the community, and the community is the school. That’s the beauty of WSH. Family is family throughout,” Zessin said.

The AACC’s Teacher of the Year Award is open to educators from any Andalusia City or Covington County school. As this year’s Teacher of the Year, Tyler receives a $500 contribution toward educational materials. He will be recognized at the Chamber’s annual meeting and the school’s award’s program. He is married to his wife of nearly three years, Presley Zessin, and they are soon-to-be parents of a son, Miller Patrick Zessin.

“Coach Zessin is a team worker, a leader, an innovator, and an overall amazing physical education teacher. His enthusiasm, love, and passion for teaching and his students are evident each day as he guides and leads his students to be the best that they can be physically, academically, and personally. Mr. Zessin works to inspire and impact all the students with whom he comes in contact each day. He develops a rapport of trust and respect with his students. He is patient with struggling and special needs students and realizes the importance of encouraging, including, and challenging them. It is a pleasure and it warms my heart to see to the impact he has on our students. Coach Zessin is an excellent representation of what a Covington County teacher should be,” W.S. Harlan Elementary School Principal Joy Jones said.