LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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John Leon

Position: Fourth-Sixth Grade SPED Teacher
School: Bel-Aire Elementary School
School District: Harrison County School District
City, State: Gulfport , MS

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John Leon was nominated by an anonymous parent of a student.

Mr. Leon is a special education teacher who has a talent of being able to work with very difficult children. He gets more out of them so they can succeed in the regular education setting. Parents throughout the district want their kids in his program because he is able to facilitate a turn in their negative behaviors, while building close relationships with parents at the same time and creating a formula for success.

Mr. Leon has been Teacher of the Year, STAR teacher, Mentor of the Term, Teacher of the Month, etc. He works with students outside of his classroom to help with discipline so they are able to stay in school, and so their teachers are able to focus on teaching instead of having to deal with negative behaviors. He has taught grades 3 through 12 and has worked miracles as far as test scores go, particularly with students who were thought to be incapable of doing so. His students are put in his class because they are unable to function in the regular education setting. He has a gift to turn these students around and get them back into the regular education setting.

He is able to reach them when no one else can. He is able to reach the parents and give them hope when all they see is a future that does not bode well for their child.

"My autistic child was in this position where I did not think he could make it in the regular education setting," his nominator said. "Mr. Leon came to my house and had a heart-to-heart with me during the summer in which he assured me that my child could succeed in the regular education setting. He told me he had been working with these kinds of students for years, and that he could help my son make it in the regular education setting. I had my doubts because every time we had tried to put him in the regular education setting, it had not gone so well. Mr. Leon took my son under his wing and was able with the kindness and dedication of his teachers and administration to get my child the support he needed to be successful in the regular education setting. It has been a miracle."

"My son received Student of the Month this year, and he has been transitioning to the regular education setting full time this whole year. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen," said the nominator. "My son was never able to make it in the regular or the SPED setting for long periods before major issues would arise. Mr. Leon has gone above and beyond to make sure this does not happen again, and my son is now on track to get his regular education diploma. When talking to other parents in the district, they all speak highly of Mr. Leon and how he has changed their child’s lives, as well. What he has done for my son and for others is extraordinary."


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