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HCS Changemaker: Mrs. Chanel V. Leslie

Congratulations to Mrs. Chanel V. Leslie, a third-grade teacher at the Academy for Academics & Arts, who has been selected as this week’s HCS Changemaker!

Mrs. Leslie had a lot of inspiration growing up, including a great-grandmother who put herself through college in 1917 and who went on to teach for almost forty years.  According to Mrs. Leslie, it was impossible not to see how highly regarded and respected her great-grandmother was in the community.  Mrs. Leslie also gets her middle name from Dorothy Vaughan, one of the mathematicians working for NASA as a human computer and recently featured in the movie Hidden Figures, but she didn’t discover that until after her own time working for NASA.  It was at the national agency, however, that she started working with Pre-K students and quickly developed a love for teaching.  Originally hired as a long-term sub for another teacher on maternity leave, it only took about three months for her principal to decide that she needed to stay on permanently.

“Changemaker is a great word for her,” says AAA Principal Paul Bonner, “she is awesome with the kids, builds really meaningful relationships, understands pedagogy thoroughly, and even more importantly – she’s a leader among the staff.”  Mrs. Leslie’s classroom is highly structured because she wants the students to know what’s happening and when.  This also helps her focus on the academic, social, and emotional well-being of her students which all work together to foster success.  Third-grade student Jordyn Liner says, “She’s very fun and creative.”  Fellow student Ella Hunt says, “She’s the best teacher I’ve ever had, so far.”

Mrs. Leslie also recently achieved National Board Certification.

Since she and her husband are empty nesters, they enjoy spending a lot of time travelling.  Mrs. Leslie says that Martha’s Vineyard is one of their favorites, but they also enjoy going anywhere there is a beach.  She also loves to read and especially enjoys biographies, but she spends most of her time reading the same books as her students.  She says it’s great when kids can really see themselves as the character in the book they are reading. 

More than anything, Mrs. Leslie wants her students to know that they are unconditionally loved.  She says that, regardless of a student’s background, she wants to be the “one person they can count on every single day to love them.”  Her students learn to treat each other with kindness and resolve differences respectfully, all while managing to thrive academically.  It’s safe to say that Mrs. Leslie is truly living up to legacy of all those in her family who came before her.

Each week, ETV will showcase an outstanding Huntsville City Schools educator as a feature in the “HCS Changemaker." Highlighted recipients receive gifts from SchoolCraft.