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One Great Oaks Educator's Mission to Care for Students

“When you hear the saying ‘it takes a village’, it sure is true,” said Megan Leshan, second-grade teacher at Great Oaks Academy.

She grew up with a strong support system, with parents who always rallied behind her ideas and helped her find solutions to problems. Ms. Leshan mentioned they are always behind the scenes helping her cut lamination, decorate her classroom, looking for deals on supplies, buying school uniforms and books, helping organize her library, buying her students snacks, and baking cookies.

Great Oaks teacher Megan Leshan

“They have raised me to always help others and they will do whatever is needed to help me and my students succeed,” Ms. Leshan reflected.

So it comes as no surprise that she goes above and beyond to care for her scholars. Her passion as an educator is teaching the whole child.

“I push to get to know them so they can feel supported by me,” said Ms. Leshan. “Then they can learn to deal with struggles when they grow up and they’re on their own.”

She supports scholars and families in need by providing kids with items they need to be successful, including books, snacks, socks, uniforms, and food for at home. She has also adopted families in need for the holidays and delivered breakfast and lunch to families when the school was closed due to COVID-19.

Simply put, she cares.

Megan Leshan with friends in New York

“Ms. Leshan’s optimism, patience, and positivity are really amazing!” said Damon Williams, executive principal at Great Oaks Academy. “Her scholars and their parents love her, and she goes above and beyond for every one of them. She’s a great teacher that continues to grow.”

Her students also know she is always available when they need her. She is upfront, honest, and consistent with her students. Her class knows their routine and expectations, and they thrive on consistency.

“They know I will be logged in on time, every day, and have times set aside for us to just chat, time for the kids to socialize (since that is something they are missing so much),” said Ms. Leshan. “They also know what subject is coming next, when our movement breaks are, when we have snack and restroom break. So, they know I am planning and thinking of them and their needs.”

But she isn’t just there for her students during the school year. Ms. Leshan also keeps in touch with her students over the summer. She believes they spend so much time together growing and having fun during the school year and they bond like families, so it’s hard for her to say goodbye.

“I know it is also hard on some of the kids,” said Ms. Leshan. “They need to continue to feel supported, loved, and keep that sense of family in the summer. During COVID-19 especially, they were very lonely, confused, and sad. I wanted my students to know I am still there for them. Educationally, but also just as someone to talk to.”

Previously teaching at another National Heritage Academies school, Taylor Exemplar Academy, Ms. Leshan is in her third year at Great Oaks. Her school is like home for her – somewhere she feels comfortable being herself, somewhere she finds balance.

“I am happier, stronger, and way more confident in myself,” said Ms. Leshan. “That positively impacts students’ attitudes, behavior, learning, growth, and compassion. I also feel empowered to try new things and make mistakes. This allows for real life learning and application for the kids to make mistakes themselves and learn from them.”

She believes that Great Oaks excels at building relationships and investing in quality time together.

“I have made great friends that started as coworkers,” said Ms. Leshan. “Friends that I learn from, who encourage and support me. From day one I have been given the space and time for me to do things in the way I feel is best for students. I have always felt trusted, empowered, and very much respected.”

Keep up the amazing work, Ms. Leshan!