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CMU graduate named elementary teacher of the year in Troy schools

Instructor teaching students in a classroom with VR

The fourth graders in Zach Rondot’s class at Costello Elementary have an original and creative way to communicate with other students around the world: their own podcast.

Called the 4th Grade Innovators, the class shares their ideas in hopes of inspiring positive change. To date, it has been downloaded 820 times and visited by people in 10 different countries.

“I didn’t want to create a podcast just to create a podcast,” Zach said. “We had to have goal. So, we took ideas from our morning meetings, where we talk about our goals, and decided on how we can use technology to positively impact the world.”

While it’s one of the coolest things he’s done, it’s also helped give his students a bigger stage for their voices. Zach noticed this encouraged his students to push themselves and produce their best work.

Parents of his students have praised Zach’s ability to talk to students in meaningful ways that cause lasting, positive change in their behavior. Every day he starts class out with a group discussion about the students’ goals, what they’ll be working on and how they’re feeling about their work.

Zach was recently named the 2019 Troy School District’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year and Oakland County Teacher of the Year. He was one of three selected out of 43 nominations to be given the honor.

He co-founded Innovation4Education with Grayson McKinney, another elementary educator. Innovation4Education is a consulting group dedicated to showing others how they leverage technology in the classroom to cultivate critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. With 14 years of combined elementary teaching experience, Zach and Grayson are working to share their expertise but also create a community of educators that are willing to connect, share and improve their teaching practices.

Zach Rondot holding CMU t-shirt

Zach is an alumnus of CMU’s educational technology program, now known as the Master of Arts in learning, design and technology. It has adapted to the needs of the market, just as teachers do. The current program includes courses designed to help all digital educators create engaging and challenging content for their students.

He serves on the CMU Master of Arts in learning, design and technology alumni advisory board.

“It’s not going to be a program where you learn what apps to use in the classroom,” Zach said of the MA in learning, design and technology. “It’s a program to teach you the best ways to implement technology to create deeper learning opportunities for your students.”

If you’re ready to take your education to the next level and use technology to create more meaningful interactions, the Master of Arts in learning, design and technology is for you. Call 877-268-4636 or email

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