Leigh Ann Erickson believes in the power of teaching. “Teaching is one of the greatest honors a human can hold. Every group of students you encounter as a teacher will change you. It is remarkable and challenging, as all good things are,” she says.
As a Director of Student Support & Professional Development at Faith Academy in Iowa City, Iowa, Erickson is a decorated teacher. She received the HER Woman of Achievement Award in 2018 and was a finalist for Iowa Teacher of the Year in 2019. She’s also an entrepreneur who founded and runs Undone Consulting, an educational consultancy to help teachers end educational inequity.
Erickson serves on the faculty of Reach as an Instructor of Composition and Discourse. She thinks the faculty-practitioner model is key in the ever-evolving world of education. “It’s important that we are DOING that which we are TEACHING in order to continue to connect with Reach candidates in authentic ways,” she says.
It’s crucial that Reach honors the work that so many professionals are already doing in schools, according to Erickson. “Reach literally gives credit for that work, and creates a pathway to becoming a teacher that is affordable and accessible. This is something all teacher prep programs should be doing if they are serious about diversifying the pipeline, and raising up future educators who care deeply about the students they serve.”
Erickson has had many moments with her Reach students that she treasures. “Every time I get to hear more of a candidate's story or experience, I am honored. Seeing candidates support each other has been so beautiful. They are SUCH a team, and they really want each other to excel,” she says. Her class is thoughtful, too. When they saw she was sick during classes, they sent her a French creole tea remedy with instructions for how to get better.
Her philosophy of teaching is not about instruction, it’s about stewardship. “Teachers hold the tremendous honor and responsibility of helping people discover and understand the world around them, and then go out and impact that world by loving others well,” says Erickson. “I hope to instill empathy, curiosity, grace, mercy, hope and an undying pursuit of knowledge in all my students.”