Leslie uses past experience to enrich teaching



Even with her busy class schedule, social studies teacher Kate Leslie makes it a priority to connect with her students and organize events like Day of Dialogue.

Balancing taking care of students, grading papers, helping colleagues and running successful programs sounds overwhelming to the average person, but for Social Justice teacher, Kate Leslie, that’s a normal day.

Leslie has taught many classes at the high school, including Racial Awareness, Social Justice and American History, and advises the school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA). Throughout her career, she been dedicated to helping and supporting colleagues and student

Changing her career path from political science to teaching while in college, Leslie found a true passion for teaching. After she discovered this passion, she volunteered in impoverished areas of Sri Lanka, which is where her immediate care and assistance to students started.

“I pursued a study abroad in Sri Lanka and when I was there, I became really interested in rural education. I was fascinated by issues in the education system and thought I really wanted to become a teacher,” Leslie said. “I worked in New Mexico thinking that I was only going to teach there for a couple of years, but I ended up falling in love with the job.”

Social studies teacher Malcolm Cawthorne, who taught Racial Awareness with Leslie last year, emphasized how Leslie always tries to improve her teaching.

“As amazing as everyone tells her she is, she is never satisfied and is always supporting others trying to learn something new,” Cawthorne said. “She never compromises, she is continuously trying to be a better educator and it is so hard to do at the rate that she does.”

Cawthorne described Leslie’s endless effort to act as an insightful resource for the high school community.

“There is a real genuine care and concern for people that comes through as she is teaching, so even though she is really tough on kids, no one takes her as being difficult,” Cawthorne said.

Junior Katherine O’Connor, who is in Leslie’s E-block Social Justice and a member of the GSA said how Leslie’s prior experiences with social justice and conflicts regarding discrimination help enhance the importance of the material and topics she covers in class.

“It adds another layer of importance and understanding to everything she mentions in class. It gives everything more of a sense of purpose because she has learned from the social justice movements,” O’Connor said. “It shows a lot in our class, she is willing to not just be our teacher, but to also learn from us.”

Even though Leslie’s colleagues mentioned her busy schedule several times, O’Connor talked about how Leslie always has time to meet with students when they are struggling with something. They emphasized Leslie’s responsiveness to students when they need help.

“I think I have met with her one-on-one six times this year, I have not done that with any other teacher because I know if I say, ‘Hey Ms. Leslie, I need to talk,’ she is always there. It is the consistent responsiveness that makes her amazing,” O’Connor said.

Leslie has felt welcomed and inspired by many events inside and outside of the high school community. She recalled an experience about the true love and acceptance the school demonstrates against hateful groups a decade ago.

“The Westborough Baptist Church, who protest all around the country against minorities and LGBTQ+ people came to BHS. The protesters were holding signs that had messages of hate, but our school decided to hold a silent counterprotest,” Leslie said. “The school went out the front of the building and stood across the street without signs of love, support and acceptance. It was a moment where I felt so proud to be at BHS.”

Alongside her praise of the high school community during the Westborough Baptist Church counterprotests, Leslie also appreciates the high school’s acceptance of many different styles of teaching.

“In other places that I have worked, administrators have held one vision of what a good teacher looks like, and if you do not match that style of teaching, you are doing it wrong,” Leslie said.

Leslie, with her drive to help and push students, nuanced style of teaching and personal values of dedication, serves as a strong role model for many in the high school community. But despite these attributes, she remains humble in the face of praise.

“I think for teachers like Ms. Leslie that do so much for the school and community,” Cawthorne said. “It is nice when we pause and recognize all that she does because she would never do that and in that way she is really humble.”