Position: Third/Fourth Grade Teacher
School: McMillan Elementary School
School District: Murray District
City, State: Murray, UT
Music that Describes Laura
Laura Leishman was nominated by an anonymous student.
"Mrs. Leishman is my teacher. I am in the gifted program at my school, and I have always felt very stressed about school," said her nominator. "Last year was so stressful that I started grinding my teeth. It got so bad that the dentist warned me that my teeth were about to break. I couldn’t help it because I felt like I always had to be first, to be the best, and basically be perfect. I went into Mrs. Leishman’s class and instead of focusing on perfection, she focused on failure. She taught me that it was okay to fail. In fact, she taught me that without failure, I couldn’t learn. I had always been so afraid to fail, but she made it okay to fail in her class. Not even okay, she made it normal to fail. At the end of every day, she wanted to know one way that we had failed that day and what we had learned from that failure. She celebrated our failures and what we learned because of them. Because of her, I no longer grind my teeth. I have realized that I don’t have to be better than anybody else. I just need to try and be better than I was yesterday."
"Our class has a motto: 'Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed,'" said her nominator. "Our class also has a saying that we say every day: 'I am calm. I am strong. I can do anything.' When I think about these two sayings, it makes me realize that I really can do anything. It might not happen immediately. It will probably take me a few tries, or even a few hundred times, but as long as I don’t give up, I haven’t failed. In the past, I was so afraid to try anything new because I was afraid to fail at it. Now, I no longer feel that way. I have started playing basketball and playing the piano, and I tell myself all the time when I miss a shot or get a song wrong that winners don’t quit when they fail and that I need to just keep going. I didn’t even realize how afraid I was until Mrs. Leishman helped me feel stronger."
"Mrs. Leishman also makes learning very fun. She loves science and math and focuses on that every day. I love to learn about science, and we do experiments and projects all the time," said her nominator. "She doesn’t only make us take tests, but she gives us projects to work on. For example, when we were studying simple machines in science and area and perimeter in math, she had us design a park using all of the different simple machines. We had to calculate the area and perimeter of the different parts of the park. It made me realize that we can actually use math in the real world. I love being able to be creative in her class and show off my learning in different ways."
"Mrs. Leishman also teaches us how to use technology, and we use our Chrome Books almost every day. She lets us create infographics on Canva to show our learning, record ourselves doing different projects and assignments on Seesaw and Flipgrid, and do online research as much as possible," said her nominator. "My favorite project was when we were reading the story 'The Summer of the Monkeys' and one of the characters is afraid that her brother got hydrophobia from being bitten by a monkey. I had no idea what hydrophobia was. Mrs. Leishman let me research hydrophobia, and I learned that hydrophobia is simply rabies, and I created a poster sharing everything I learned."
"Mrs. Leishman doesn’t just teach me. She teaches me how to teach myself. She makes me feel better about myself," said her nominator. "In first, second, and third grade, I spent a lot of time in trouble, and I had to go to detention a few times and to the principal’s office once. I felt like I was the only one ever getting in trouble, and it was making me hate school. Mrs. Leishman has helped me feel better about myself and about school. She has taught me that I’m not a bad kid, and she has taught me how to make good choices and that her class is a safe place where learning is fun."
"I feel like Mrs. Leishman deserves to win the Life Changer of the Year Award because she has literally changed my life. I feel like a different kid," said her nominator. "Before I was anxious and stressed and unsure of myself, but now I am happy and confident and excited to go to school. I know I have more to learn, but I also know that Mrs. Leishman will always be there to help me if I need her."