PETA Honors NVC’s Zach Sokoloski for Compassionate Work

PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently honored Northwest Vista College adjunct instructor Zach Sokoloski as part of a teacher duo for their 2022 Teacher(s) of the Year Award.

TeachKind hosted PETA’s annual contest which aims to give teachers a a round of applause. Five teachers were recognized for building a more compassionate world by teaching empathy and to spotlight the innovative ways they’re doing so, both in and out of the classroom.

Along with Zach, Steve Calamars, also was part of that winning duo. Both are longtime friends who teach together at Anne Frank Inspire Academy (AFIA), a public charter school in San Antonio. Zach taught English for 14 years but recently left a larger school district and became certified to teach social studies in his new role as inquiry facilitator at AFIA, where he helps students explore their interests and pick an “inquiry project” to work on each quarter. Zach said “some of the kids are working on some really cool things—one kid is tackling the issue with plastics and recycling, another group is spotlighting the cruelties of the fishing industry and the impact of oil spills, and [a] group of ninth graders is working on [a] partnership with [a pig rescue in Central Texas].”

Steve teaches English at AFIA, and together, he and Zach use their passion for philosophy, literature, and the humanities to guide their students in questioning speciesist ways of thinking.

As an adjunct instructor, Zach teaches an Introduction to Philosophy course that heavily incorporates feminist philosophy and animal rights. He holds an M.A. in philosophy, and his master’s thesis focused on factory farms and more compassionate ways to eat and live. He is currently taking graduate classes in the hopes of obtaining a Ph.D. and being able to spend more time writing about these issues.