What is an educator? There are many different examples of what an educator is. We have seen our share of incredible educators and some below average educators. Webster’s Dictionary definition is: a person who provides instruction or education, a teacher. Enter Steve Lesniak.
He came from out of nowhere. Like some kind of teaching superhero with all the traits that you wish an educator would have. His mind would work faster than a speeding bullet. He could solve problems in a single bound. This was not a man born out of the pages of fantasy. He was a savior come alive. He was NOT your typical educator. He was the one, the only, Mr. Steve Lesniak.
Now that we have that out of the way, let us breakdown what made him such an important figure in our lives.
From day one, Mr. Lesniak showed Mike a level of respect that he had not seen before. He didn’t see Mike as a problem, he saw Mike as a student with some problems and he was going to help solve them – – one by one. He always included Mike as much as he could. He was the type of teacher that thought outside the box anyway, so when a problem would arise, he enjoyed modifying things to suit Mike’s needs, while still challenging him as a student. The brilliance of how Mr. Lesniak taught was that he included Mike in a way that Mike wouldn’t stand out, but fit in. The other students knew that Mike was a valuable member of the class.
Below are two examples of how we believe that Mr. Lesniak stood out as an educator. There were many, many other examples, but these two were the ones we chose to highlight.
The Mock Trial of Saddam Hussein (This was in 2003)
Since Mike was a good speaker, and problem solver, he gave him the hardest job of the trial. Mike would be the lead defense attorney for Saddam Hussein. This meant that Mike had to give the closing argument of why Saddam should be kept alive. This was pretty darn hard, by the way. Even though Mike lost the case, it was this opportunity that gave Mike the confidence to go up and speak in a definitive manner. This skill is something Mike uses in his professional career today.
Why was this so important? Teachers often times are afraid to push students dealing with challenges.
End of the Year Class Video Yearbook
Mr. Lesniak wanted to know what Mike was going through and what it was like going to school with cerebral palsy. They bonded over their senses of humor, and Mr. Lesniak learned that Mike had a love for movies so he assigned a very special project. It was one that he thought would suit Mike’s unique set of skills. Mike would be the director/editor of the graduating classes video yearbook. He would have the full responsibility and authority to create and complete the project the way he wanted and he even gave Mike a support team that he was in charge of. Since Mr. Lesniak got to know Mike on a personal level, he was able to utilize what he learned about him and create a project that was well suited to Mike’s strengths.
We asked Mr. Lesniak if he wanted to add anything to this post, here is what he said: “The reality is …all students face challenges, some are just more obvious than others. Helping them to develop the skill set to draw them in is essential. Ironically, students, well everyone for the matter, do not see what lies within until someone takes them time to help them draw it out. Everyone grows through challenge and everyone needs support at some time. That’s the magic of teaching–being willing to learn.”
What an educator!!
We are honored to call Steve Lesniak a friend and a colleague. When you come across people like this in your life, you make sure that they stay in your life. Anyway you can.
Mr. Lesniak wrote a blog article for us a few years ago – check it our here!
Tease: There is one more story about Mr. Lesniak that truly shows his compassion and creativity. However, you will not be able to read it here but you can have full access to this story as we share it in the online product we created or bring us in, in person to share all of our stories. 🙂