By Carla Morris
Teachers at St. Louis College Prep (SCP) recently voted their colleague, Greenville University alumna Kate Leenerts ’13, teacher of the year. Kate teaches sixth grade at SCP, a tuition-free, public charter, college-prep middle and high school located in St. Louis.
“Urban education may have been God’s calling for my life, but that doesn’t mean it has always been rewarding or glamorous, and it definitely hasn’t been easy,” Kate said in an article that appeared in the fall 2016 issue of The RECORD.
Still, her enthusiasm for her vocation, her school and her students remains steady. She draws inspiration from new ideas and best practices gleaned from others and strives for continual improvement. For example, she began this school year with a new perspective on homework, inspired in part by Steven B. Frank’s book, Class Action.
“’When our kids have choice in what they learn and see great value in work . . . it completely changes the outcome and purpose of the work.’ This school year, I’m committed to being more intentional about what I assign as homework, how much I assign and empowering kids to choose topics or practice[s] that are the most meaningful to them!”
As an undergraduate at Greenville University, Kate sought training in urban settings. She counts her experience in East St. Louis classrooms as pivotal:
“I was paired with a teacher who taught me some of the most important lessons I would learn [as an] undergrad, that teachers are not just educators; we are parents, aunts, nurses, counselors, transportation providers, discipline enforcers, life-lesson coaches and more. It is through those many hats we wear each and every day that we are able to do our jobs well, and do our jobs to their fullest.”
Staying positive helps, and for Kate, gratitude fuels positivity. “I am so lucky to be surrounded by incredible educators and people who have lifted me up, taken me in, and taught me so much over my first five years in my career. Thank you for loving me, encouraging me, pushing me and helping me become a better person.”
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