Camelot Teacher Profile: Leonard Ward
Leonard Ward is an extraordinary teacher at what is quickly becoming an extraordinary school, Excel Academy Southwest of Denver, one of Camelot’s newest locations.
Mr. Ward, a native of Denver, is in his sixth year in the Denver Public Schools (DPS) system, teaching social studies, history and geography this year. He began his career working on truancy cases and then taught in the credit recovery department at Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School.
A political science major in college with a master’s degree in special education, Mr. Ward says he fell in love with helping students who were labeled as behavior problems or “not smart.”
“I knocked on doors, talked to families and helped influence positive change,” he says. “I was not the most coachable student so I can relate.”
Why did this rising educator transfer to the new Excel Academy? “I liked the smaller, structured environment and felt very comfortable with the school’s leadership team. I had worked under and been mentored by our principal, Cynthia Navarro at Lincoln. I was very impressed with Matt Kass (Camelot Assistant VP) and Curtis Reichart (Excel Academy Executive Director) and their (Camelot) ideology and passion.”
Now at Excel Academy, he is using his expertise in working with students who may need a little extra help.
“I love working with these students and I hold no judgments,” he says. “A lot of these kids don’t have fathers. Some don’t eat at night. It’s rewarding to me to understand their life and to find avenues to relate to them.”
One recent example came in discussing immigration. Most of Excel’s students are Mexican-Americans whose parents moved here. Mr. Ward taught his students about how Europeans came through Ellis Island and the struggles they encountered in their new country decades ago and related that to what they may now be experiencing.
As for personal aspirations, Mr. Ward says he’d like to make the transition to become an administrator at Excel Academy. “I expect our school to grow. There are a lot more students like the ones we serve. The partnership between Camelot and DPS is going to be successful. This system is going to start turning heads.”