Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Grad school

DHS alum returns as teacher

September 21, 2006

Amanda Leach has to get used to the idea of calling her teachers by their first names.

Just five years ago, she was walking the halls of De Soto High School as a student. Now, she's come back to teach communication arts at her alma mater.

"A lot of the faculty has changed," she said. "But the people who have stayed are the ones I thought really made a difference for me."

Those people, she said, were teachers like Kathy Reddy, Dwight Spencer and Carmen Shelley to name a few.

"They made learning fun and meaningful," she said. "They were also very good at encouraging me and making me feel good about what I was doing."

The 23-year-old is the daughter of James and Evone Leach, De Soto. She attended De Soto Elementary and Countryside Elementary schools and was one of the first students to attend the new Lexington Trails Middle School as a sixth-grader. After graduating from DHS in 2001, she attended Baker University. This is her first full-time teaching job after studentteaching at Olathe South High School.

"I really didn't know what I wanted to teach until I went to college," she said. "I just knew that I wanted to teach."

Leach said she earned certification in communication arts and speech and theater. She decided on communication arts, knowing it was more of a required, core course.

"I have the challenge of making students who hate my subject understand it and love it," she said.

Leach said having a high school diploma prepared her better than most for college.

"I noticed very early that my study habits, work ethic and writing abilities were far ahead that of my peers," she said. "I already knew the proper way to write research papers and papers about literature, while others had to be taught."

This fall, she's teaching two plays -- "The Crucible" and "Romeo and Juliet" -- to her junior and freshmen students. In the spring, Leach said she would teach Elie Wiesel's "Night," a novel about the Holocaust.

"It's a pretty emotional book, and it takes you into the Holocaust," she said.

Leach said if her students get anything out of her class, she hopes it would be appreciation of culture.

"I hope they can at least understand and know that it is not always boring books, stories and writing. There is more to it than that," she sAmanda Leach has to get used to the idea of calling her teachers by their first names.

Just five years ago, she was walking the halls of De Soto High School as a student. Now, she's come back to teach communication arts at her alma mater.

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