Leigh Lillard: Making School Fun for Herself and Her Students
Updated: Apr 14
Leigh Lillard of Charles E. Bennett Elementary School grew up hanging on her teachers’ words. From an early age, Leigh’s mother saw that teaching was for her. After graduating high school, Leigh stayed the course and never looked back.
Leigh Lillard loved helping people learn from a young age. Her first foray into teaching was assisting students from foreign countries in learning English when they moved to the U.S. She loved the feeling that it brought her and those experiences cemented her love for teaching.
In her 22 years of teaching, she’s never stopped learning. “There has never been a year that’s exactly the same,” said Leigh. “Education is always changing. The way we teach is always changing because every year we get a new batch of children […] with different needs and levels of needs.” Leigh said she’s found plenty of help on the internet, where she has access to a broad community of teachers that share their knowledge.
Leigh understands not only her students’ needs but also their feelings. “There are just so many students out there that don’t enjoy school anymore,” Leigh said, “especially in a day of standardized testing.” Leigh, however, doesn’t let that bring her down. Going back to school, she got her master’s degree in educational leadership. While her original plan was to go into administration, she eventually realized she loved the classroom and the daily interaction with her students too much to give it up.
The classroom clearly fits Leigh’s style more than administration anyway. If you go into her classroom, you could quite literally find her standing on the table doing her best impression of “Dead Poets Society.” “If I have something I really want the kids to listen to, I want all their eyes on me,” Leigh said. “When I get to work, I want it to be fun for me and for the kids.”
Leigh learned throughout her years teaching how meaningful relationships with students and their parents are. She realized that students will work harder for you when you invest in them and they form the basis of an engaged classroom. When she really gets to know her students and the things they care about, they start to match her enthusiasm in the classroom.
Photos courtesy of Leigh Lillard