CAMP VERDE – It’s been 11 years since American Heritage Academy’s Camp Verde campus opened.
Also in her 11th year in education, Alicia Leon has been at the charter school since day one.
“I feel honored to work for such an outstanding school,” says Leon, who now teaches fourth grade after having served as a paraprofessional for the school.
“This school is very important to me. It not only teaches academics but how to be a person with integrity and to have respect for others.”
Leon says she has “always wanted to be a teacher.”
“I can remember as a child, playing school with my cousins instead of with toys,” Leon says.
“I love to teach students because it is just so important to be able to help them, and have a positive impact on their lives. We are building tomorrow’s heroes today.”
Perhaps it takes a hero to build a hero. According to American Heritage Principal Lance, Barnes, Leon is the school’s “greatest champion.”
“Mrs. Leon is all about students. She works tirelessly on their behalf,” Barnes says.
“She uses differentiated instruction groups to make sure that her high achievers are challenged, and those students who need extra support get that as well. She sets the standard for work ethic and professionalism.”
If Leon was not a teacher, she says she would be in law enforcement.
“I feel like with teaching I am making a difference in the lives of my students,” Leon says.
“I think it is important to know them and what they need on an individual basis.
“It is also important to learn from others and not get stuck only teaching one way.
“You need to be open to change and do what your students need.”
“I love working in groups and having whole class discussions. This gets everyone involved and I am able to clearly see who is struggling and needs extra help. I like to guide the students into a higher level of thinking.
“When we have group discussions the students feel comfortable and will engage in the discussion.”
Leon was nominated last year for the Sequoia Root award for her efforts in the Title One and SPED services. In 2011, Leon received an award for having outstanding loyalty.
Last year, Leon received the school’s Sliver Apple award by the staff.
“I have been honored to receive these awards and to be nominated,” she says.
“What I like least about teaching is all the paperwork involved. I need to spend more time with the students teaching them, not doing hours of paperwork.”
DID YOU KNOW?
“I started as a substitute, and I remember thinking I could not be in a classroom alone with students and keep classroom control. I was beyond nervous and the teacher I was covering for gave me flowers and candy to help me feel better.”