With football practices under way, Zach Sweeney is beginning his 17th year of teaching at Winterset High School and will once again work to get to know every one of his new ninth grade students.
Sweeney grew up in Waterloo and received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education science with a minor in coaching from University of Northern Iowa. He spent his time student teaching in Council Bluffs. He accepted his first full-time job here in the Winterset School District in 1998.
Sweeney teaches ninth grade physical science. He works hard at making his room welcoming and teaching his students to hold themselves accountable.
“I want them to be able to see themselves as a scientific thinker,” he says. Students in his classroom spend their time learning Newton’s Second Law, matter, elements, periodic table, force, motion and energy.
“I am setting them up in my classroom for science down the road,” Sweeney says.
In 2001, Sweeney became the head football coach. Whether in the classroom or on the field, he lets his students and players see the human side of him as a teacher.
“I view football as the last class of the day,” he says. “I try to put kids in a position to be successful and try to give them tools to succeed.”
The Husky Way “Play Hard, Play Fast, Have Fun” motto for the Husky football team fits Sweeney’s teaching philosophy to teach students and players to use what they learn across the board for the rest of their lives.
“Students might describe me as weird or unique, but I use whatever I need to connect to the students,” he says.
This year the state redistricted Winterset to the west division. Sweeney will be managing approximately 85 ninth through 12th graders who signed up for football. The team also has five managers.
“Over 100 people are involved in football Friday nights,” he says. “People ask me how the team is going to be. I tell them we’ll find out in five, 10 or 20 years.”