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Meet the Staff: Personal Education Coach and Instructor Dr. Vanessa Leon

13 Jun

Meet the Staff: Personal Education Coach and Instructor Dr. Vanessa Leon

Posted By: 
Lydia Martin

Hi Vanessa, tell us a little about your passions outside of work.

I am passionate about finding beauty in all kinds of places throughout the world, and have about a zillion countries I’d love to visit. Right now, I find myself in beautiful, sunny Miami (although sometimes it’s a little TOO sunny) with my husband, 14 year-old daughter, 10 year-old son and two cats, Lucy and Marble. My daughter is into musical theater and she’s gotten me interested in it as well. So far we’ve seen Something Rotten!, An American in Paris, Cinderella, Cabaret, and Chicago, with plans to see many more. My son is a budding archer, and I’ve been trying that out too. Finally, my husband works for the Miami Heat basketball team, so we are all big fans. I also love to read lots of different kinds of books, from classics to contemporary mysteries, and watch shows like Sherlock and Once Upon a Time.

What is your role at CMASAS?

I am a High School PEC and English and Social Studies teacher.

What subjects do you teach?

I teach American Government and Civics, Anthropology, British Literature, Criminology, English 2 and English 4, and World Literature

What drew you to work in education?

I have always been drawn to facilitating learning, and I've done it in so many different ways. Online education allows the student a lot of freedom to create their own schedule while pursuing many life goals. But overall, I love being able to share information, explain content and help students have a learning experience.

What would you want someone unfamiliar with CMASAS to know about the school?

That a school exists where your needs and preferences are taken fully into account. Lots of online schools offer flexibility in scheduling, but only CMASAS has teachers so wiling to modify requirements to suit personal needs. It's truly an amazing thing to watch!

Do you have a favorite story from your time at CMASAS where you feel you helped a family or a student create a truly personalized learning experience?

Students who battle illness need not only the flexibility of our medical plan, but also often need revision to the assignments themselves. I've had students who felt strongly about content that assumes the student is "average" in terms of health, and can take part in cardiovascular activity, for instance. All of that can and has been modified to the student's taste and needs, so that no one ever need to feel their situation is not respected.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Seeing students who have come from a traditional school blossom as they realize the freedom and control they have over their learning experience.

What inspired you to want to work at an online school that emphasizes personalized education vs a site-specific traditional school?

Traditional schools often has as a goal personalized learning, but this is very hard to accomplish in a class of 25-30 students. CMASAS offers truly personalized education, as the content can be changed, modified or added to for each student, without affecting any other student. This model is truly effective and I love how great it makes our students feel.

What is a goal or dream that you are currently working towards?

I just started learning how to throw pottery on a wheel, which is a ton of fun. I'm looking forward to continuing this learning process and eventually having usable pottery!

What is one piece of advice that you would offer students today?

Take control of your education by figuring out exactly what you need to be successful. Then, tell your team about it so we can make it happen.

What is your favorite book? Why?

A book I read recently that I loved was The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. It gave such an in-depth look at a very specific culture in China, and had the kind of ending that gives you goosebumps!

How can parents and students contact you?

I'm available between 8 am and 3 pm EST Monday - Friday at vleon@cmasas.org. They can also call me at (503) 226-7374 Ext. 650.