KENILWORTH, NJ – Fifth grade teacher at Harding Elementary School Mike Klimchak recently was one of five educators to win the Zachary Prell Role Models Campaign. To win the competition, each contestant wrote a personal story about being a role model as an educator and then voting was held online. The five winners will receive a Zachary Prell wardrobe valued at $1,500 and have a chance to be the face of the campaign.

Klimchak found out about this contest through social media.  One of his Instagram friends and a "teaching influencer," Nicholas Ferroni, created an Instagram Story with a link to Zachary Prell's website.  Klimchak took a look at the entry process and decided he had nothing to lose. He finished in third place out of 25 teachers with 675 votes. The votes consisted of friends, family, other teachers, current and former students. 

For twelve years Klimchak has been teaching at Harding and is a two-time Teacher of the Year.  “The best part about teaching is having an impact on each and every student that walks through my door” he says proudly.  “Each student comes in with different expectations, skills, and baggage, and it’s my job to get the most out of them.  This challenge makes me strive to become a better teacher every day.  There isn’t a greater feeling in the world than knowing I could change the life of a child forever.” Klimchak says his students not only inspire him to become the best teacher he can be, but also a better person. “Whether it’s going to one of their sporting events, recitals, or awards ceremonies, I want them to know that I care about them outside of our classroom walls.  I want my students to leave my classroom knowing that I will always be there for them, even years after they leave Harding.”

Klimchak has a twin who also is a teacher at Arthur L. Johnson and interestingly he has two younger twin brothers. The odds of two sets of twins in a family are 1/70,000. He is a three-time NCAA All-American tennis player and in college was the winningest tennis player in TCNJ program history.