Miss Congeniality


“We could just start off by…well, I was wondering what your high school experience was like, mostly academically but also socially.” This was the shaky start to my interview with Ms. Wilson. I had over 14 questions prepared, and within the first few minutes she had answered all of them (in her response to my lackluster first inquiry). 

See, I don’t know why I expected this interview to go the way my other interviews have, because Leigh Wilson is unlike any other teacher I’ve ever had. I can remember very few positive aspects from my freshman year, but I do remember her, and the safe haven that was her classroom. Even after I finished 9th grade Global History, she would still find me in the hallways to ask me how I was.

Student Life: 

From everything I already knew, and what I learned through this interview, I would say that the reason why she is such a successful teacher is because of her undying love for school. She mentioned several times throughout the interview that listening to her talking about high school, it was hard for me not to feel jealous. She took seven AP classes her senior year, not because she was trying to “stack” her application, like most super-students, but because she thrived in the classroom. Her love for school continued on into her career, “That’s probably why I became a teacher,” Ms. Wilson remarked, “because I liked school and I felt like I wanted to make sure other people liked school too.” 

In my conversations with Ms. Wilson throughout my time as her student, it was obvious how much she genuinely wanted people to enjoy and do well in her class. From her detailed study guides to how she incorporated projects throughout the year, she gives so many opportunities to both understand the content of the class and get a good grade at the same time. “And I’m always wondering how I can find ways to make school fun without it seeming overwhelming.”

Ms. Wilson then mentioned how her experience in highschool shaped her career path, and specifically her relationship with her own teachers, she says that, “Ms. Blackford, my AP US History teacher, I loved her. I thought she was so cool. She was older, but I thought she was very stylish. I always really liked history, and I really liked her.” 

In her senior year of high school, she recalls entering into a “beauty” pageant at her school. She told us about how they all showed their talents and wore evening dresses and how she was actually voted Ms. Congeniality. She mentioned how she felt in that moment, “I spent most of my life where my first assumption was that people didn’t like me, and it was the first time that I realized that we often are wrong about the way we think that people are perceiving us.” Looking at who she is now, it’s apparent that this label is still very applicable. That kind, slightly shy aspect of her personality is still there.

College and Career:

Ms. Wilson didn’t immediately decide to become a teacher though. When interviewed, she mentioned how she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in college. “I actually did like modeling while I was in high school,” she explains when asked about her extracurriculars. After college her family told her to go into law school because of how she enjoyed reading and writing. While she enjoyed law school, she didn’t actually want to practice. Sometime during her second year of law school she realized that maybe she wanted to teach, she adds that, “that the one thing I really loved was school, that I loved being in law school more than the idea of being a lawyer.” 

It’s obvious that we are incredibly lucky to have her at our school, and we are grateful to have her vivacious spirit in our lives and our classrooms.