Leanne Leonard is one of the few elementary school teachers you’ll find with a doctorate in education.
Leonard is a first- and second-grade teacher at Tournament Hills Elementary in Beaumont and has 12 years of experience in the classroom. She received her bachelor’s degree, teaching credential, master’s and doctorate from the University of Redlands and currently serves as adjunct faculty for the School of Education.
“I was a gymnast and when I was in college I decided to coach gymnastics. I enjoyed it so much—that was when I realized I loved teaching young children,” says Leonard.
After earning her teaching credential, Leonard returned to the University of Redlands for a master’s degree to become a more effective reading teacher. Choosing to pursue a doctoral degree was motivated in part by her husband’s belief that she could make a difference for students in underserved populations on a larger scale.
“My doctoral journey at the University was a transformative experience guided by professors who shared a deep and committed belief to making a difference in the lives of children, contributing to narrowing the achievement gap and guaranteeing equitable educational experiences,” Leonard says.
In more than a decade of teaching, Leonard has seen many changes in the classroom, especially when it comes to technology, which is becoming a core part of teaching. In Beaumont, where Leonard teaches, the community passed a bond issue several years ago that allowed the school district to install Promethean Boards in every classroom from transitional kindergarten through twelfth grade. These interactive boards support student engagement by giving students and teachers access to electronic media, curriculum sources and presentation software.
According to Leonard, student comprehension and time on task has increased because teachers are providing more models and also allowing students opportunities to “teach” their peers.
She says transitioning to the Common Core State Standards will present new challenges but is also a tremendous opportunity to refocus on learning for meaning.
Leonard will continue to pursue her passion for education and will now transition to administration where she can continue to make a difference. She recently accepted the position of Coordinator of Instructional Services at the Riverside County Office of Education.