Jean LeBlanc didn’t have to go into education. She had a perfectly good career going in accounting.
As her two children when through elementary school , though, LeBlanc, of East Maine Elementary District 63’s Viola Nelson School on July 1, found she loved being immersed in the school environment.
“When I began volunteering in my children’s grade school, I figured out where the heart and soul of a community is. It’s in grade school,” she said.
A gradual realization led to a career change.
“I’m competent at accounting, but I’m passionate about teaching. That’s what I get excited about,” she says.
LeBlanc, who lives in Libertyville, started out teaching third grade, and says that experience in the classroom serves her well as a principal. She knows how to figure out what works with kids, and how to figure out where they’re at in the learning process.
She eventually progressed to principal and curriculum director in Oak Grove District 68 in Green Oaks (in Lake County) and then principal of Rockland School in Libertyville Elementary District 70, the position she held before coming to District 63.
True to her devotion to education, LeBlanc is also a student. In pursuing a doctorate at National Lewis University, she’s studying instructional leadership and issues of cultural diversity. She describes the program as grounded in the real world, dealing with issues as practical as politics in an effort to help its students really get how schools and education have to function, she says.
The program’s emphasis on cultural diversity led LeBlanc to seek out a more culturally diverse school, and she says Nelson fills the bill. She hopes to use what she’s learned in the doctoral program to help kids who come from different language and cultural backgrounds.
In addition to being interested in cultural diversity, she also believes in student equity—the idea that all students have the opportunity to succeed.
“Good schools get the whole child, and help the child to succeed academically, socially and emotionally,” she says. “They look at all aspects of kids’ lives.”