Teacher Leanne Schwartzenberg laying a strong foundation for her students

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 20, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

Leanne Schwartzenberg, 52, loves teaching upper elementary students.

In her 25 years as an educator, she has taught every grade level from pre-k to eighth grade. Her career began at First Methodist School on Broad Street as a second-grade teacher. After her time there, she took a seven-year hiatus to start her family. She returned to the classroom as the director of religious education and religion teacher at Holy Family Catholic School in Moss Bluff.

Now, Schwartzenberg is teaching fourth and fifth-grade math at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School. She has held this position for 17 years, and it is her favorite by far.

Her students are “naturally curious, excited about learning and love challenging work,” she said.

“They come to class with happy faces ready to accomplish any task expected of them. I enjoy making learning fun and engaging through learning games and activities so that students at all levels are prepared for middle school.”

There is fulfillment in providing these students with an impactful educational experience during some of the most transformative years of their childhood.

“They are no longer little children anymore but also not teenagers. The students are becoming more independent yet they are still eager to learn and accept challenges.”

Schwartzenburg herself was born and raised in Vinton, and has known since she was a young age that she wanted to be a teacher due to her love of school and working with young people.

She has earned three degrees from McNeese State University — a bachelor’s in early childhood education, a master’s in curriculum and supervision for elementary principalship and a master’s in guidance and counseling.

It can be difficult for students to understand math, but helping them work through difficult mathematical formulas and concepts is fulfilling for Schwartzenberg.

“As a child I always loved math and I want to instill a love of math in my young students. Math can be very challenging. The excitement that lights up students’ faces when they work hard to finally understand a challenging math concept is truly rewarding.”

Establishing an appreciation and understanding of math in elementary students is “truly life changing” for students, she explained.

“Students who have a positive attitude toward math and problem-solving are more likely to accept the challenge of higher-level math courses that will allow them to choose a career that requires strong math skills, such as architecture, medicine, research, and engineering. The students who perform the best in math are often the students with the most enthusiasm, not the students with the highest level of intellectual ability.”

Laying this strong foundation for students in the upper elementary is especially important, as the skills that they learn — basic computation, problem-solving and logical reasoning — are applicable to everyday life.

“Our math content includes the basic skills students will use their entire lives, whether they become scientists, engineers, chefs, musicians or carpenters or simply manage their household budget. Understanding basic math concepts is essential for managing finances, measuring ingredients, and making decisions in daily life.”

Nurturing independence in fourth- and fifth-grade students is important to Schwartzenburg. To achieve this, she provides them with a “safe, loving environment” that gives them room to prioritize learning and agency.

She is not blind to the impact her career has on the future of Southwest Louisiana.

“Educating the next generation and preparing them for the future is one of the most impactful contributions to our community. … Seeing former students grow up to become compassionate, knowledgeable and responsible members of our community is incredibly fulfilling.”

Teaching at ICCS has provided her the opportunity to teach effectively and “instill a love of God and living a virtuous life” in every child that passes through her classroom. She contributes much of this to her fellow peers and leaders.

“At ICCS, we have a wonderful, supportive team of teachers and administrators who work together with parents to focus on strengthening the minds and spirits of our students. It is truly an honor to be able to teach in such a positive school community where I love going to work every day.”