Twenty years ago, Zinka Sukurica walked into Isenberg Elementary School (IES) for her daughter’s open house, and she walked out with a job. The teacher assistant still works there today, and she’s fondly referred to as “Mrs. Zinka.”
Ask anyone at IES about Mrs. Zinka, and they’ll tell you this: She’s so welcoming. She’s a hugger. She’s always willing to help.
Mrs. Zinka says her experiences as a refugee and immigrant motivate her to be the best – and kindest – she can be. She and her family fled their home during the Bosnian War, and after living in Germany and Phoenix, Arizona, they moved to Salisbury to be closer to friends.
Now, she’s always welcoming new students and teachers with open arms.
“She knows how it feels to be the new kid on the block,” said Heather Nardone, a teacher at IES, adding that Mrs. Zinka’s welcoming presence is significant to the many exchange teachers that Isenberg hosts as a dual-immersion school.
Mrs. Zinka’s heart is with her students, though.
“The kids need somebody to be there for them,” she said. “I give them love, and they give me love.”
And that puts a smile on her face.
“I always smile. Always. No matter what,” she said.