LESLIE WADDELOW: Refining the Craft of Teaching

teacherWhen Leslie Waddelow and her  husband moved to Jacksonville, Fla., nearly a decade ago, she discovered a new world as an elementary school teacher in the inner city.

“It was a completely different  environment than I was used to,” said Waddelow, who grew up in Cynthiana, Ky. “I’m a rural Kentucky girl, and this was a big city.”

That didn’t slow her down, though, as she quickly embraced her new assignment and learned what her students needed to  succeed – which was a lot.

“I wasn’t just their teacher,” she said. “I was like their mother, and I gave them love, affection and even food as needed. I was the constant in their lives.”

During her eight years in Jacksonville, Waddelow became a leader at the school, organizing professional development programs, tracking new teachers and working as a facilitator. She even earned the title “Teacher of the Year.”

In 2014, the family moved back to Kentucky and they settled in  Harrison County. Waddelow was quickly hired as a fifth grade teacher at Deep Springs Elementary in Lexington.0

Deep Springs Principal Adam Kirk was thrilled to hire a teacher with such experience and skills.

“It’s rare to have a teacher with experience with Title 1 schools,”  Kirk said.

Waddelow also had experience with the Common Core curriculum, so Kirk assigned her to act as the leader of a new fifth-grade teaching team at Deep Springs.

“She’s dynamic, intentional, organized and caring,” Kirk said. “She loves her kids. She has a direct line to each student in her class.”

Waddelow describes herself as a structured, stern teacher. But she’s also fun-loving and generous.

“The kids know I care and love them,” she said. “I give lots of verbal praise. I want them to feel good about themselves. Everything I do is to build them up.”

While she loves working with kids and seeing them grow and develop, she’s also interested in helping her fellow teachers learn and grow. Her long-term goal is to move into a leadership role.

Said Waddelow: “How you move and shape a child is all based on the craft of teaching and I truly enjoy working with that.”

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