Leanne Self: Teacher and Mentor

Anyone who has talked to Ms. Leanne Self, 11th grade English teacher and head of the Upper School department at Cape Henry Collegiate, for even a few minutes knows her as an energetic optimist who can rarely be caught without a smile.

Ms. Self says she prides herself on not only teaching students Shakespeare and helping them write colorful college essays, but also helping them find who they are through reading and writing and how to think for themselves.

“I am wanting my students to become more enlightened,” Ms. Self said. “I want to create outstanding readers, writers, and critical thinkers.” 

Ms. Self cares deeply about her job and her students. She comes in everyday, met with a never-ending workload and the non-stop responsibilities of the head of the English department, with the best attitude possible. Ms. Self says she does not have days where she gives a free bell because she is tired, she writes every lesson plan to be as exciting as possible, and there is not a student in the school she does not believe is capable of being their best selves.

“I love what I do!” Ms. Self said. “Yes, the workload becomes tough at times, but I just keep remembering that I have the opportunity to create change in this world and what an awesome opportunity that is.”

On top of Ms. Self’s ability to teach students academically, she also gives great life advice. Her ability to think deeply about the student body as a whole allows her to identify the main problem she believes students face today, not just in school, but in life as well. She said her best life advice for students is to be ‘present’ in life.

“Be ‘present’ in the moment,” Self said. “Take advantage of every possible opportunity you have with education. Take risks. Turn weaknesses into strengths. Be demanding of yourself but know when to give yourself grace. Not everything has to be perfect. Stay highly reflective. Always work up to your full potential on all assignments. When one door closes, another will open. Embrace flexibility. Have a growth mindset and stay positive.”

Not only did Ms Self have a great detailed description of exactly what being ‘present’ means, she also has ways she encourages students to live more in the moment and become better people.

“Affirmations are crucial for success in life,” Self said. “Find time for yourself every day to maintain balance. Time management is important. Break down large tasks into manageable pieces. Do not procrastinate. It only causes more stress. Be kind, considerate, and polite to others always. Examine other viewpoints and confront fear. Practice the art of scholarship and disagreeing agreeably. Discover the why behind everything. Be curious and say ‘what if’ often. Believe in yourself and have confidence but know humility. You are in control of how you respond to the challenges that life may hand you. Stay in control. Stay a student… forever. I would not ever profess to have all the answers. But, I do have plenty of questions.”

Ms. Self’s wisdom and desire to help the next generation the best it can be makes her an irreplaceable piece of the Cape Henry Community.