Teaches: Second grade at C.T. Sewell Elementary
What others are saying: “Ms. Leonard demonstrates the characteristics of an outstanding teacher, as she promotes compassion and a standard of excellence. Ms. Leonard continually encourages students with special needs such as autism, health impairments, and other learning disabilities to strive for their best performances. She maintains a nurturing, loving atmosphere where students are taught to collaborate with and depend on one another.
“Ms. Leonard shows all students how to appreciate each other’s differences, and this environment of trust and security promotes tremendous academic growth. Individuality and creativity are fostered along with vital independence and self-confidence.” – Josh Lamers, Horace Mann agent
Her favorite teaching moment or memory: “I had been teaching for five years when I moved to Las Vegas in 1997. I had heard about all the schools being built and the exciting new developments and changes taking place, and I was eagerly looking forward to being a part of that. However, I was hired through a phone interview, and I never actually saw the school I would be working at until just before I was to start. When I finally stood in front of the school, I just stared at the anti-drug signs posted all over the chain link fence. I wasn’t hired at a sparkling, sensational new school at all, but an old school in a somewhat dangerous and questionable part of town.
“Needless to say, I was nervous and worried about what this new position would require. That year, it involved teaching unforgettable students like Sammy, Anjelica, Tanisha, Diego, Joe, and many others. Even after what is now twenty years of teaching, the students in that first grade class continue to be some of the most special and wonderful children I ever had the chance to know. They were sweet, intelligent, and thoughtful learners who needed me and made me realize how important my job really is. They didn’t let hardship get in their way, it made them thirstier to learn and grow, and they came to me daily for that chance. Until that year, I had always liked teaching, but never really appreciated the significance of what we do.”