Following a father’s footsteps

Teacher and coach helps students reach their goals


Clara Oesterling

Geography teacher and men’s volleyball coach Joseph Leonard interacts with students in the hallway on Tuesday, March 13 after school. Leonard has been teaching for 14 years.

Lily Berggoetz, Reporter

Every morning at 7:05, Psychology, World Geography teacher and boy’s volleyball coach, Joseph Leonard, is in his classroom eager to see what the day has in store for him. 

In fall of 2000, Leonard started substitute teaching at SHS, while studying at IUPUI to get his teaching license. He became a study hall monitor teacher in 2002.  In 2004, he was hired as a classroom teacher.

Although Leonard has had many other jobs before working here, he has never taught at another school. He has worked here for 14 years, he says he has developed passion and dedication for teaching and working with his students.

Leonard credits his dedication to his love of helping others. He says he is motivated by helping students get to where they want to be and to reach their goals.

“I love what I do here, and I love being here every day. I have some of the most amazing conversations every day (that are) with students,” Leonard said. “ (I love) helping them, pushing them and pulling them to help them get where they are going. It is really rewarding for me.”

Leonard has been impacted by his students. He says that one student, junior Bailey Gray, is someone who has made an impact on his life.

Gray lost his mother his freshman year of high school. Leonard says that Gray continued to stay positive throughout the whole situation.

“I’ve always been really amazed by him being here every day and having a great attitude,” Leonard said. “I just look at him as a really strong person and I think, sometimes, that if I have a bad day, there are a lot of people like him who have it worse than me and I can push through that.”

Both Leonard and Gray believe having a good student/teacher relationship is very important. Leonard believes that students don’t learn from people they don’t like. He says he wants students to see him as a positive person and model someone who loves to be at school and loves life.

Gray says that a good relationship is important because it is better to have someone to talk to, someone who is not just a teacher. According to Gray, Leonard is someone students know they can talk to if needed.

“He never gives up on anyone, no matter how difficult it is or how hard-headed somebody can be,” Gray said.

Leonard says that his dedication to what he does is not limited to teaching. He is determined to do anything he puts his mind to. He believes this is because of his father’s determination to work hard.

“In general, I would put dedication in whatever job I (do) because my dad was a really hard worker and no matter what he did, he worked as hard as he could and I learned that from him,” Leonard said.