Public Charter School: Excel Charter Academy
Public Charter School Location: Grand Rapids
Authorizer: Grand Valley State University
Carly De Leeuw came home two years ago to teach in the same classrooms where she once sat as a student. A certified public school teacher, De Leeuw spent the beginning of her career in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she taught in a program for academically gifted students, before accepting a teaching position back in Grand Rapids at Excel Charter Academy.
De Leeuw teaches 6th graders at Excel reading, math and social studies, and is thrilled to teach students in the same setting where so many public school teachers once taught her.
“I love teaching middle school because they have the best sense of humor, and are willing to try just about anything, even if it's a silly history song or video,” said De Leeuw. “I also love getting kids excited to be in class, and looking at the clock and realizing class is already over and they didn't even notice!”
Ms. De Leeuw attended Excel Charter Academy from 1998-2006 and received her college education and teaching degree at Grand Valley State University, the University that authorizes her school.
“My public charter school is the reason I became a teacher,” said De Leeuw. “I always felt incredibly safe, comfortable, and had so much fun learning. I knew that my teachers genuinely cared about me and about what they were teaching, and I loved going to school. It made me realize from an early age that I wanted to go back and perpetuate that feeling for other students today.”
She credits her own teachers with nurturing her love of education and commitment to students.
“My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Stewart, was incredibly kind, patient, and fostered a love of reading from the time I was young. My 7th grade ELA teacher, Mrs. Bolt, made reading and writing one of my favorite classes to attend. She told the most engaging stories to hook us, and while we knew that there was a learning objective attached to them, we were caught - hook, line, and sinker – for whatever it was she wanted to teach!”
She credits her elementary school math teacher, Mr. Winter, with engaging her and other students with math concepts in ways that no one had ever done before. Mr. Winter is now her boss.
“He was one of the most obviously passionate and enthusiastic teachers I ever had! He is the type of math teacher I aspire to be today.”
It’s an aspiration she’s excited to chase each day in service of today’s students.