Honored: Leah Stafford
Leah Stafford has found her path for making a difference.
With a decade’s experience in education, Stafford is now in her second year as an assistant principal at Chandler Creek Elementary.
“I went to the University of Michigan and I was going into pre-law,” she said. “It wasn’t the path that I thought was right for me. I didn’t think I could make the change I wanted to make. I saw that where I could make the biggest difference in the world was as an educator.”
Stafford said the elementary school years are an exciting time for students and those who work with them.
“I want them to have fun when they come to school,” she said. “I want to be that teacher they remember. In elementary school, they are excited about school and you can be silly and goofy. It’s the first time you are being exposed to a lot of things. You get to see that light bulb moment. To see that interest — that’s why we’re teachers.”
Stafford is finding that being an administrator allows her to impact more students.
“I miss the classroom like crazy but I work for a principal where I can say, ‘I have a crazy idea’ and they let me run with it,” she said. “As an administrator, I can encourage and inspire other teachers. I was a little worried about the transition, but it’s all about what you make it. You have to build that time into your schedule as an administrator — you can make it into the classroom. I’ve been put in the fun spot to be the idea generator.”
And the ideas keep Stafford busy. She spearheaded the school’s Health and Wellness Month in October, which included a variety of health topics, a classroom pedometer contest and more. The cheerleaders, football players and band from Greer High School even came to lead a pep rally for students. The month also included a health expo night for families.
“Families could come in and do a little workout with their children and they could go into the expo to learn about a healthy lifestyle,” Stafford said.
Currently, Stafford is starting an after-school program for fifth grade students to teach them how to use the school’s 3D printer. It’s part of her commitment to leading children through fun and innovation, and reflects the school’s focus as well.
“At Chandler Creek in general, we look at educating the whole child,” Stafford said.