Leigh Ann Schneider, Kindergarten Teacher at The Madeleine School in Portland, Oregon
Nominator: Catherine Glavan (parent)
All three of my children have had Mrs. Schneider as a kindergarten teacher. Our oldest is a precocious reader and Mrs. Schneider encouraged and inspired her. Our middle child is mellow and reserved and she engaged his curiosity. This year Mrs. Schneider has our youngest child, and under Mrs. Schneider's skillful watch he is also encouraged, inspired, and engaged. The job is different this year for Mrs. Schneider; our youngest son has Down Syndrome. Mrs. Schneider has read extra articles and incorporated new teaching techniques to best suit his needs, while still serving the rest of the class. She is talented, giving, and patient, and we as parents are inspired by her daily, just as her students are.
Congrats, Leigh Ann, from al of us at K103! Get to know Leigh Ann Schneider:
What inspired you to become an educator?
School did not come easily for me as a young, shy child, so as I became an adult I started researching about different learning modalities. I found that it was not that I was without a capacity to learn, but that I had not been taught in a way that matched my learning style. I desired to become a teacher who could effectively reach my students’ abilities and interests through auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic lessons. I wanted to offer them a wide variety of experiences that would help expand my students’ opportunities to grow and learn successfully.
What do you like most about teaching?
I love building community. My primary objective each year is that my kindergarteners fall in love with school and learning. I want for them to use the year as a springboard that will catapult their learning to the next level. I love creating a classroom built on trust and respect. I want to provide a learning environment where children feel comfortable and I want to establish a relationship with my students that allows them to flourish. I feel that we as educators cannot get to the task at hand unless we create an atmosphere where children are equal shareholders in our community; that they are taught at an early age that their words and actions have meaning, and that we can have the most success by caring and working cooperatively with others. When we establish a safe, nurturing classroom we can learn to our best potential.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
Kindergarten has changed dramatically since I began my teaching career in 1988. Children are spending more time in teacher directed lessons and less experiential learning. I have tried to fiercely protect this in my classroom by offering daily opportunities for children to freely play and investigate materials, allowing them to practice social and emotional skills that are critical to early learning development. I feel very supported by my principal, Susan Steele, in allowing me to continue to offer opportunities daily for my students to play, explore, discover, share, dialogue and interact open-endedly.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
My job is a labor of love. I love each and every one of my students and make it my duty to connect with each of them and know them as individuals as well as a classroom community. I am very appreciative of the Madeleine parents for all of the love and support that they give to me in helping their child to be the best little person they can be! It’s an awesome job that I couldn’t do without their steadfast encouragement and support.
Share a story about your favorite teacher/educator.
One of my favorite teachers was my anatomy and physiology teacher Mr. Martin. He had a very dry sense of humor which always had you on the edge of your seat. He was an amazing story teller and there were lots of hands on activity in his class, which was important for this tactile learner. Thank you, Mr. Martin, for making each class a pure joy!
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
One of my very favorite experiences as an educator is when my students reconnect with me after years of our being apart. From five-years-old to adulthood is a long time, and fortunately, I have been blessed with several of these stories over the years. One involves a darling named Megan. She was in one of my earlier classes and was an adorable, happy and attentive student. Years later when Megan was attending the University of Portland, she asked about spending time in my classroom because she had decided to become a teacher. Happily, she became an awesome teacher and mother. Another great story is about Adrienne who came back to visit my classroom and see the inner-workings on her journey towards becoming an educator. Later she was reacquainted with a classmate, Jonathon, who she originally met in my kindergarten class years ago, and they are now married with a beautiful little girl of their own. It is an absolute joy to share in a child’s life and then have them come back to tell me how I affected theirs and to have the opportunity to share how magically they have affected mine!