Superintendent’s Spotlight: Alexander ‘AJ’ Zimmerman


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Alexander ‘AJ’ Zimmerman

September 22, 2020

Sanfordville Elementary third-grade student Alexander ‘AJ’ Zimmerman is attending school via the Distance Learning Academy this year and, even remotely, he is making a big impact on his class. An engaged learner and a real self-starter, AJ’s favorite subject is Science and he has a very clear picture of where he’d like to take his education and how he’ll use it.

AJ’s goal: To become a doctor!

“A week into the school year I can already say AJ is among the most exceptional students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching,” said third grade teacher Ms. Amanda Knowles. “He’s a bright light in our class, who inspires us all to think outside the box and explore the world around us.”

Sanfordville Elementary Principal Johnna Maraia has also been impressed with AJ’s proactive approach to his classes.

“AJ takes ownership over his learning, making sure to schedule appointments to work directly with teachers,” said Ms. Maraia. “He has a knack for asking the right questions to help reach his learning goals.”

That personal motivation has driven AJ to conduct his own examinations into the medical field, and specifically neurological disorders. If you’ve ever wondered why a brain with fluid build-up is unable to store memories as well as a typical learning brain? Well, AJ has done the research and can tell you!

AJ said his interest in the medical field began two years ago, after a family member was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He began researching MS in his free time to better understand the situation.

“I wanted to know more about what was going on,” said AJ. “I’ve also studied other things like dyslexia and Angelman Syndrome.”

Ms. Knowles and Ms. Leigh also love how engaged AJ is during their remote class meets. With the inquisitiveness of a scientist, he listens, asks questions and discusses topics with his teacher and classmates freely. His self-study has given AJ an impressive handle on vocabulary, too.

When he’s not completing his classwork, you can find AJ experimenting in his home lab space, which is complete with testing apparatus. He has his own oximeter and blood pressure cuff, and practices using other medical equipment whenever possible. One of his main hobbies is examining bacteria under his microscope.

This fall he will be attending afterschool courses online through the Little Medical School, learning healthcare topics through a curriculum developed by experienced educators, board-certified physicians and trained professionals. He also spends time watching archived videos of actual surgeries on MedTube, an eLearning platform intended primarily for healthcare professionals.

While he is a budding medical scholar, AJ also knows how to go for a good chuckle and connect with his classmates.

“Yes, AJ often wears his lab coat and stethoscope to Google Meets,” said Ms. Knowles.

So, does AJ have a future specialty practice in mind? He sure does.

“I’m interested in neurology and also pediatrics,” he said. “So, I’d really like to become a pediatric neurologist.”



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