Duluth Cluster

Instilling a Passion for Learning

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Ms. Leigh Ann Gaskins is a fifth grade teacher at B.B. Harris Elementary School, which is named after Nancy Harris’ (mayor of Duluth) father. Ms. Gaskins received both her Bachelor’s’ and Master’s degrees from Valdosta State University. After college, she taught at Oakcliff Elementary School for a year then moved to Dallas, Texas. After six years in Texas, Ms. Gaskins moved back to Georgia and got a job at B.B. Harris Elementary School in Duluth. Ms. Gaskins is currently in her 21st year of teaching!

When Ms. Gaskins was a child, she would run a summer school in her backyard where she would invite her neighbors to come her “school.” At this school, she’d have fun activities to engage her “students.” By the age of seven, Ms. Gaskins knew she wanted to be a teacher.

When I had Ms. Gaskins nine years ago, she was a third grade teacher, and even though she teaches a different grade now, the way she interacs with her students and treats them has not changed at all. Ms. Gaskins loves teaching, and she loves kids, and her students agree. One of her students, Abigail, said she thinks, “Ms. Gaskins is a very nice teacher.” Ms. Gaskins also loves the school she teaches at just as much as she loves her students. She loves the B.B. Harris community, and how excited the kids are to learn there.

There have also been some changes at B.B. Harris since the last time I was here. B.B. Harris has now departmentalized its classes, meaning each teacher teaches one course, and the students rotate like they would do in middle or high school. The reason why B.B. Harris introduced this system is because “if the teacher is passionate about the subject they’re teaching, then students will be, too.” And that passion is clearly illustrated by Ms. Gaskins’ flexible, engaging, and entertaining teaching style. She told me the best part of teaching reading and writing is that it is the best way to reach a shy child; they may not participate in class, but they will write what they’re feeling even if they don’t want to articulate it with words.

Ms. Gaskins wants her students to leave her class with a passion of learning and great memories. She stated that “middle school and high school can be rough, so I really try to make them [her students] happy,” and I can fully and wholeheartedly say that is exactly how I left her class. I made some of the best memories in class, and I really began to appreciate school and learning from her class.