LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Laura Leishman

Position: Third/Fourth Grade Teacher
School: McMillan Elementary School
School District: Murray District
City, State: Murray, UT

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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."

Comments (10)

Tiffany Poulsen Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Leishman has been a game changer!! My daughter enjoys school and reading again. She is no longer nervous about asking for help or making mistakes in school. She loves to come home and tell me how she failed that day because she knows it is ok. The students are excited to learn and put their knowledge to work. I absolutely love all the in class projects! It really helps my daughter to understand why she is learning a specific subject and how it will be applied in real life. Mrs. Leishman is one of the biggest reasons we decided to stay at McMillan.

Justin Kartchner Posted over a year ago

I am a parent of a student in Mrs. Leishman's gifted class. I honestly do not think that I have ever met a teacher who is more proficient and dedicated to educating children than Mrs Leishman. In years past, my son has done consistently well in school. However, he has often floated through assignments and tests unchallenged. I feel that Mrs. Leishman has a truly unique understanding of the role that school has in our children's lives. She takes each of her lessons to the next level in ways that demonstrate how the curriculum applies to her student's lives and the world around them. She challenges her students and encourages them to fail and turn their failures into success. The time, planning, evaluation and love that she puts into her lesson plans in extremely evident. This year my son is always excited to tell me about the projects he is working on in class and what he has accomplished. Mrs. Leshman also does an amazing job of communicating and coordinating her class learning experience through her class blog and emails. I am so grateful that my son has the opportunity to be in Mrs. Leishman's class.

Ashley Dunkelberger Posted over a year ago

I am the parent of a student in Mrs. Leishman's gifted class. Her efforts to inspire, educate, and encourage her students has certainly changed our child's life. Before entering Mrs. Leishman's class, our son was nervous to make mistakes, apprehensive to start anything that he didn't think that he could do perfectly, and completely disliked the thought of going to school. Her classroom has helped him to not only feel physically safe once again but to feel emotionally prepared to try new things, admit when he isn't understanding a concept, and be who he is...even if that means not being a perfect student. We owe Mrs. Leishman so much! Not only do we get to love and enjoy who our son is at home, we know that he gets to be himself at school, too. She has definitely changed three lives in our home already! We can't wait to send more of our children her way!

Andrea Minnis Posted over a year ago

I’m not even sure where to start in how to describe what an impact Mrs. Leishman has on so many children’s lives. She is a truly exceptional teacher and her love of teaching is evident in every single, well thought-out school day. The way she takes core concepts, has the students delve into further understanding via book or internet research, and then makes them come alive in creative hands-on experiments and projects is so fun as a parent to watch. My child comes home each day excited to talk about what she has learned. The way Mrs. Leishman teaches really hits on every potential learning style there is for her students, making each one of them a success. Just as and if not more important than teaching curriculum, Mrs. Leishman also does a phenomenal job in building character in her students. She has created this unique classroom culture that inspires confidence, acceptance, creativity, and common respect among each other. As a parent, I can’t be more excited to see my child bloom in this type of environment and it truly is because of what an amazing teacher Mrs. Leishman is. I can’t think on any other teacher that would be more suitable for this Life Changer of the Year Award.

Onchaya Kartchner Posted over a year ago

I am mom of Jonas in her class room and Jonas love his teacher and so far I seen her always have new activity in the classroom And very very active teacher like non stop about projects lol Sorry if my English is horrible but she a great teacher that was I see ??

Michelle Matsuura Posted over a year ago

I thought I was fortunate that my oldest had Mrs. Leishman for both 2nd and 3rd grade but when I discovered that my youngest daughter would have Mrs. Leishman too, I was beyond ecstatic! She embodies excellence! The way she interacts with the children, keeps them engaged/interested and wanting to learn more, it is TRULY remarkable. Both of my children went to Challenger. Both came home with hours of homework. Both were exhausted each and every day. Mrs. Leishman understands her target audience. She embraces progressive learning techniques while maintaining a traditional teacher-style classroom. The kids work hard while at school, go home to disconnect and return the next day recharged/refreshed and ready to learn more - it works! The weekly blog she writes, Leishmann's League of Learning, keeps me in-the-know of what my child is learning and what to expect in the weeks to come. I could go on and on but in short, she is absolutely magnificent!

Andrea Griggs Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Leishman is an incredible teacher! She gets her students excited to learn and really engages them in fun learning activities. She helps them understand that failing is part of learning and growing and it is not a bad thing! So many students expect perfection from themselves and get very stressed out when they don't achieve that. Mrs. Leishman is helping her students learn to relax and just keep going. She communicated regularly with parents and we always know what's going on in her classroom. She makes learning fun! Thank you, Mrs. Leishman!

AMY COLEMAN Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Leishman is a rockstar at keeping parents abreast of what's happening in her classroom. She keeps a weekly in depth blog chock full of photos and explanations of what's happened in the week and what to expect the next week. My child and I discuss what she's learning, because I know what questions to ask. Mrs. Leishman has really made me feel connected to my child's education.

Amanda Habel Posted over a year ago

There so many great things to say about Mrs. Leishman. She has taught the children in her classroom, many of whom are perfectionists, that it’s ok to make mistakes and fail. She has brought joy and fun into learning. She teaches her students to be responsible and proud of their accomplishments. We are particularly impressed with her ability to successfully run 3 different curriculums in one classroom. Not only are there different levels based upon ability, but those groups remain fluid. The time it must take to know each and every student’s understanding of individual concepts and then place them in appropriate groups cannot be easy. If anyone deserves an award such as this, it would be Mrs. Leishman. We cannot thank her enough for the LIFELONG lessons she is teaching the children in her classroom.

Julia McMillan Posted over a year ago

I didn't realize my son was depressed about his education until he came to Mrs. Leishman's class and he came back to life. Everyday in second grade he would plead/beg/ask to do math or science, and his request fell on deaf ears. This year, in third grade, his life has improved so much! He is cruising through times tables and division in math, learning new, engaging science, and excited to go to school everyday. That is a big deal for a quiet, introverted, brilliant child. Mrs. Leishman's moods are predictable and her rules are clear, so everyone knows where they stand, students and parents alike. She writes a weekly blog post about what learning happened in the classroom, and adds pictures, so as a parent, I can see what my child was learning that week. She responds quickly to emails, she is generous with her time and her communication, and it's always a pleasure to be around her. I can't say enough good about Mrs. Leishman and who she is as an educator. She believes in the students, and she believes in her ability to teach them. We are so grateful that she is in our lives!