The Lady Behind the Writers

Mrs. Leese´s picture used on her courses Google Classroom page.

Mrs. Leese´s picture used on her courses Google Classroom page.

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By:  Sean Slayton

While many of the students and staff at FHN high school may enjoy the articles of the school newspaper The Northern Times, few would know the person who made the articles possible in the first place. Rhonda Leese has been teaching for 26 years. After a brief three-year period at Battle Creek High school, she began at Forest Hills Northern, where she has remained since then, inspiring students to do a different kind of work.

Like most in her profession, Leese realized her desire to teach while in school herself. While playing the childhood game of school, Leese gravitated towards the teacher position more often than not. Her natural love of teaching only increased as she became one herself in time for the 1992-93 school year.  

Throughout her two-and-a-half decades of teaching, Leese has exclusively taught at the high school age, preferring to teach older kids whom she can relate to more. This is key in her ¨Writing for Publication¨ class, in which students report on sometimes controversial news, which encourages more in-depth conversation.

Leese has her own personal views of teaching which perfectly complement the atmosphere and critical eye required to report and comment on the influential issues highlighted in ¨Writing for Publication.¨ Leese is not a fan of standardized testing,  ¨It has infiltrated everything we do, and if I could get rid of the stress for everyone, I would.¨

Leese wants her students to focus on more meaningful things. Many students attest to the low stress and welcoming environment of her classroom, sporting frequent visitors from students as well as other staff members. All are happy to be apart of the ¨low-key¨ (a term commonly used to describe Leese´s class by herself and students) atmosphere.

The ease of learning in this class is not found elsewhere, like many other courses that require students to re-adjust their learning. In ¨Writing for Publication,¨students are rewarded for branching out of essay writing to adopt their own style of reporting news. The papers a student writes over the semester help him/her to learn a balance between properly recording important information that is easily digestible and choosing how he/she explicates and comments on it.

While one could listen to the praise Leese and her class have received from other students, one must take the class to really grasp the passion Leese has for her job. This was evident when I pressed for any more information or final thoughts during our interview.

¨I absolutely love what I do.  There is nothing else I would rather do.¨


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