McHenry High School English Instructor Leah Nolan has had quite a start to her teaching career. First, she started teaching during a global pandemic. Then, she became the first Staff Member of the Month award winner for East Campus in the 2020-21 school year.
Nolan, who is teaching Honors English I, English II and English IV, said this has been a challenging start to her teaching career. McHenry High School students started the year learning digitally with the hope to return to some in-person learning soon.
For Nolan, it has been a great learning experience to help her throughout her career.
“We have had to find new best practices for teaching online,” Nolan said. “There’s so much I can take and apply from this when students are back.”
Students who nominated Nolan for the award have made note that she’s just getting started, yet has been able to inspire them to do their best work. “Young, new teacher in a new environment yet she still makes me smile daily and promotes a good work ethic,” said Zach LoBue, a freshman.
Freshman Skyler Balzer said she appreciates Nolan’s patience and efforts to help her students.
“She’s very compassionate and a great role model to her students,” Balzer said.
Nolan, a Harvard High School graduate, said she’s inspired by being able to make an impact on young people. She hopes her efforts will help her students to keep learning and growing.
“I tell my students that your journey with education is never over,” she said. “I love teaching. It’s amazing.”
After graduating from high school, Nolan took some classes at McHenry County College while deciding what area of education she wanted to pursue. Then she transferred to Illinois State University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication education with a minor in English. She’s pursuing her master’s degree in school counseling at Northern Illinois University.
Nolan said she’s inspired as a teacher by being part of the journey for her students. “I love knowing I’m making a difference,” she said.
To view the video made to honor Nolan, click here.
The MCHS Staff Member of the Month program honors a staff member from East Campus and West Campus each month during the school year. Thanks to the support from Meat and Potato Eatery and Brunch Cafe, each award recipient gets a gift certificate as well as a plaque.