2020 Teacher of the Year:
Leila Kubesch helps students develop their own leadership skills, become globally- and civic-minded, and break away from limiting beliefs by guiding them to rise above challenges and advocate for community change. Leila teaches Spanish and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Norwood Middle School. Having committed to teaching in high-need schools, she became resourceful in securing unique opportunities for her students. With the goal of empowering all youth in the same manner as those in affluent communities, she fosters community partnerships, writes grants for innovative learning, and instills a mindset of dreaming big through large-scale service-learning projects that stem from youth initiatives. The work of her students has landed in museums around the country and won national recognition. Her passion for equity and social justice extends beyond the classroom. She served as an advocate for emancipated foster youth in Ohio by raising awareness of the plight of these youth. She presented to large audiences including TedXCincinnati, where she won the Audience Choice Award for her talk. She spoke with politicians and dedicated her effort until House Bill 50 passed, enabling foster youth in Ohio to have a home until age 21. She places a high value on learning and has studied in eight countries. She earned a master of science in educational leadership from Purdue University and a master of arts in secondary education from Ball State University. She is a Certified Yoga Instructor and her fellowships include Fund for Teachers, Christa McAuliffe, and Fulbright Hays.