Teacher, Lake Weir High School
Some kids just know what they want to be when they grow up. For Leena Williams, teaching has always been her calling.
“I have always wanted to be a teacher. I am the oldest of four children, and when I was young, I would play school with my younger siblings. If you ask my youngest brother, however, he will say we weren’t really playing school—they were just actually at school.”
Leena, an 11th and 12th grade English and IB literature teacher, has been teaching for eight years. She attended Marion County Public Schools herself and received her teaching degree at the University of North Florida.
“I chose to teach English because words do stuff. They allow you to share. They impact others. My goal is to help students be better listeners, speakers and understanders. I think it is the single most important job in the world.”
Although Leena has been awarded the Florida Governor’s Award for Community Service and a Golden Apple award by the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, her most rewarding moment doesn’t come in the form of a plaque.
“The most rewarding thing is when students learn and then go on to a better future. Many of my students are the first high school graduate in their family, first to go to college, the one who is going to break the cycle of constant struggle. I have students who are homeless and come to class every day fighting for their future. I owe these kids. They trust me to help them fulfill their potential and get a scholarship, which can mean the difference between going to college and not going. The bar is very high, and helping them clear it is easily the most rewarding aspect of my job.”
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” – Dante from Inferno
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut