Teacher of the Year looks forward to new challenges

New school year off to rousing start

Each year, Brittany Leopold feels nervous just before the first day of school.

“It’s almost like you’ve never done it before,” she said.

Then, the kids walk in, and the nerves disappear.

“It’s just such a good feeling to see their faces again.”

Leopold is one of more than a thousand teachers who are back to work for the 2015-16 school year in the MSD of Wayne Township. The new school year began Thursday, July 30, after a seven-week summer break. This year, Leopold will teach sixth grade, after having taught second grade for five years.

“I’m excited for the new challenge,” she said.

Like other teachers in the district, Leopold will spend the first days of the school year (more) getting to know her students, and helping them get to know each other. As the days turn into weeks, the Ben Davis High School graduate hopes to support or instill a love of learning in each child sitting in her room.

“I want everyone in here to know they are successful, will be, and can be. Even if they’ve never felt it in the past.”

For a young woman who wasn’t even sure she wanted to be a teacher – she started at Indiana University as a social work major – Leopold has already seen a great deal of success. She learned in May that she had been chosen as the district Teacher of the Year for the MSD of Wayne Township. She will find out this fall whether she is a finalist for the Indiana Teacher of the Year award.

Her colleagues would love to see Leopold honored at the state level, saying she is hardworking and focused, and cares deeply for her students. And her students – well, they are her biggest fans.

“Congratulations on being named Teacher of the Year,” one of her second graders wrote last spring. “I love you. I don’t want to go to third grade because you are fun. You let us bring toys and I’m going to miss that. You do cartwheels and it’s funny. I love you at the top of my heart.”

Leopold didn’t spend much time away from students over the summer. She taught summer school and tutored other students. As she makes her transition to teaching sixth grade, she once again envisions good things for the kids in her room.

“My goal this year is to get them ready so they can go on to junior high and high school and college and whatever they want to do,” she said.  “And be successful.”