By Gareth Henderson
POMFRET – Pomfret School Teacher Barbara Leonard has been teaching children for 19 years, and her enthusiasm hasn’t waned one bit. Leonard mentioned the sparkle in a second-grader’s eye when she gets a desk for the first time.
“They’re at that age in between learning to read and reading to learn,” Leonard said.
This year, Leonard was named the Windsor Central Supervisory Union’s teacher of the year. She enjoys the Pomfret School’s approach to learning, which includes a wide variety of projects and lessons. They include the observatory, sugarhouse, raising chickens and the many other opportunities to diversify the subject areas.
“There’s so much room for creative thinking,” Leonard said.
Leonard also has made a point of bringing the community into her classroom, as with the “Special Friends Tea Day.” For this, each student brings to school a friend who is at least two generations older than them. The children then conduct interviews.
“I think it’s so important to cross these generational barriers,” Leonard said.
Leonard – who used to sell her own baked goods – passed on some of her knowledge to the students. The kids took the project and ran with it. That resulted in the “Best of Baked Goods” award for the junior division at the Tunbridge World’s Fair.
“They’re going to remember an experience like that,” Leonard said.
The WCSU is a place Leonard knows well. She graduated from Woodstock Union High School in 1970 and also taught at the Woodstock Nursery School. She added that Pomfret School Special Education Teacher Tammy Myers was one of her students at the Nursery School. Also, Leonard did student teaching with Barb McKeon, who teaches first and second grade at Woodstock Elementary School. Leonard’s sister, Martha Giller, teaches fifth and sixth grade at WES.
This community family circle is also very much alive at Pomfret. That prompts everyone to look out for each other, Leonard said.
“Each child is important to all of us,” she said.
Leonard is originally from Rutland, and her family moved to Woodstock in the middle of her high school years. At WUHS, she met her current husband, Wayne, and they reside in Woodstock. All three of their children graduated from WUHS as well. Leonard has a human services degree from Vermont College in Montpelier, and an elementary education degree from St. Joseph in Rutland.
By Gareth Henderson