By Tim Reaves
Erwin Hills – Leslie Anderson’s favorite words are “I get it! It feels really good when you get those breakthroughs, because that’s how you know you’re connecting,” she said.
As a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Joe P. Eblen Intermediate School, she sees herself in a critical position to grow her students into lifelong learners.
“With 10- to 12-year-olds, you need to get their buy-in,” she said. “We get active, we talk about our lives, and we look at new material from a bunch of different angles.”
Anderson is Joe P. Eblen’s Teacher of the Year and was recently named the Erwin District Teacher of the Year. She’s been in the profession for 26 years, has a master’s degree in school administration, and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Anderson remembers growing up with teachers who treated her like a “young adult” instead of a child.
“They drew great things out of me,” she said. “It was so rewarding to be respected, to be trusted to make my own decisions, and it made me want to be a teacher myself.”
Now an experienced educator, Anderson tries to draw the potential out of her own students. When she knows a student will struggle with a coming lesson, she “pre-loads” it by introducing some of the concepts through individualized instruction before teaching the rest of the class.
“That way, when I get to the class lesson, the student will say ‘I know that!’ instead of falling behind,” she said. “They go in victorious, even volunteering to explain it to the other students.”
Principal Jeremy Stowe said Ms. Anderson has a passion for her subjects that gets kids excited about learning.
“Eblen’s motto is ‘Ready, Respectful, Responsible,’” he said. “Ms. Anderson models those traits in her everyday interactions. She shows our students how to be a little better and a little smarter every day.”
Editor’s note: Reaves is with Buncombe County Schools Communications Department.