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COVER STORY: Educators that Excel | Leigh Record

COVER STORY: Educators that Excel | Leigh Record

Educators that Excel: Leigh Record

By Olivia Putnal DeLong | Photo by Sara Hanna
Current School: Atlanta Speech School, Wardlaw School
Years in Education: 48
Hometown: Americus, Georgia
Favorite neighborhood spots: Buford Highway for Vietnamese food and Erika Reade Ltd. and B.D. Jeffries for home and gifts.
The remarkable Leigh Record celebrates her 70th birthday this month, but she has no plans for retiring anytime soon. She’s been with Atlanta Speech School for 42 years—a third-grade teacher for 40 years, and now the curriculum specialist for the school’s Wardlaw School for children with dyslexia. She says her decades at Wardlaw have felt like perpetual graduate school—she is constantly learning and developing as an educator. She tends to use the word “exciting” over and over when describing her time there and teaching in general. Learning new things about her subject matter, students or colleagues thrills her, she says, and helps her continue to grow in ways she never knew she could.
Record found her career path totally on her own—when she graduated from high school, she attended the University of Georgia and completed her bachelor’s degree. At the time of her graduation, her father said, “Uncle Sam gave me 10 days and I’ll do the same for you,” forcing her to figure out a career—and fast! She found her way working with children with disabilities and this eventually prompted Record to attend Georgia State University’s evening teaching certification program. While attending Georgia State, Record served in the Atlanta Public Schools district as a member of a pilot program that had her teaching lessons in classrooms so the regular teachers could have an hour or two for professional planning time.
Her interest in children with learning differences grew and she began commuting to the University of Georgia on weekends to receive her master’s in education. Record’s love of travel led her to serve as a teacher overseas from 1970 to 1972 with the Department of Defense in Guantanamo, Cuba. Upon her return home she received a six-year specialist degree in reading from Georgia State University. Record’s long and storied career also includes time with DeKalb County schools before joining Wardlaw in 1973.
“She has never turned down an opportunity for professional development. She trains other teachers in the Wilson Reading System, a highly structured remedial program that directly teaches the structure of the language to students and adults who have been unable to learn with other teaching strategies, or who may require multisensory language instruction,” says Wardlaw Upper School Director Debbie Dreas.
RLeigh_quoteecord’s two-part Wilson Training certification process was a rigorous and prestigious one requiring several classes, tutoring sessions and observations. One of the hardest, yet most fascinating, parts of her job, however, is technology.
“I remember when I took a field trip with an Atlanta Speech School group to see a computer for the first time, and now I’ve just purchased my first smart phone! I’m getting better,” she says.
Record is constantly furthering her expertise with dyslexia. Since becoming the curriculum specialist in 2013 she’s started hosting “Lunch and Learns” mostly dealing with math topics, to expand her own knowledge as well as that of the other teachers. She reads each and every dyslexia magazine she can get her hands on, and hands out her summaries of the articles to the staff.
Record also loves to travel—the educational way! She’s been to Asia, and has a Morocco trip in the works with Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO), a nonprofit providing affordable trips for teachers. While abroad, teachers visit schools along the way to learn about the culture of education in the countries they are visiting.

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