Lea Ann Solberg didn’t have the typical “epiphany” that you hear a lot of teachers talk about when we asked her why she wanted to go into education. “I was a senior and needed to choose a career path,” she told us. However, after just a few minutes of chatting, it’s easy to see that Lea Ann doesn’t fit the typical mold in lots of ways. She’s not your typical educator, and most certainly doesn’t consider her career typical.
“This job is the closest that I will ever come to winning the lottery. I walk through those doors every day to teachers who want to teach, and students who want to learn,” said Lea Ann, winner of our Edmentum Inspirational High School Educator award.
These days, her official title is school counselor for Career Academy, in South Bend, Indiana, but she has also taught every grade except second in her 30 years’ experience. So, after three decades in education, what’s her favorite part about her job?
“I love being that ‘rock’ for someone each day. A lot of these kiddos come from rough situations outside of school and they begin to rely on you for support,” Lea Ann stated. “Building trusting and caring relationships with students is so important, but often something that is forgotten in education.”
In addition to building strong relationships with students, Lea Ann is known at the school for being a force of positivity and confidence. Ms. Jagger, Lea Ann’s principal, believes that’s because of her willingness to acknowledge every student’s capabilities and break down the barriers many of them put up, so they can start to believe in themselves.
“Inspiration is contagious. Ms. Solberg does not judge students on how they look, where they come from, or their home life. She doesn’t sugarcoat the situation. She lays it all out there and [helps] the student realize how much power they have in determining their own journey,” says Ms. Jagger. It’s with this attitude that Ms. Solberg has empowered many students to excel in their studies, graduate, and start thinking about college. Edmentum’s Courseware has provided her with a critical alternate route to help students do so.
Ms. Solberg was a strong advocate within her school for implementing Courseware, and uses the tool to assist students who have struggled with discipline issues and personality conflicts in the traditional classroom to graduate from high school on time. Not only does their experience with Courseware help enable students to earn their degree, but it builds their confidence, showing them how much they are capable of. “I want them to know they can be whoever they want to be. You want to be a Marine Biologist? Well, we can’t offer you Marine Biology in person, but I can guarantee you I am going to find you an online course related to it. I want them to see how many options they have, and go for it,” Lea Ann explained with obvious excitement. Having Courseware has given Career Academy this ability to expand options, keeping students engaged and performing at high levels.
It’s clear that Lea Ann does not take her role at Career Academy lightly, and it’s apparent to the educators around her as well. “Ms. Solberg is compassionate. She truly believes in the students, and will continue to find what works for them, however she can,” says Ms. Jagger.
Please join us as we extend a big congratulations to Edmentum’s Inspirational High School Educator award winner, Lea Ann Solberg! Thanks for your outstanding work, Lea Ann—keep it up!
Want to learn more about Edmentum’s Educator of the Year Award and our other Inspirational Educator honorees? Take a look at this blog post, and or check out these profiles of our other winners!