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Doug LeBlanc

If Doug LeBlanc is dreaming, then you are advised not to wake him. He is living every man’s fantasy: earning multiple graduate degrees from one of the most prestigious institutions in the country while pursuing a career he loves as a wellness teacher at The School at Columbia University. “It’s a dream come true,” he says, so who can blame him for wanting it to last?

Doug LeBlanc is living every man's fantasy, earning multiple graduate degrees from one of the most prestigious institutions in the country while pursuing a career he loves as a wellness teacher at The School at Columbia University.  "It's a dream come true," he says, so who can blame him for wanting it to last?  The answer, quite simply, is no one.  Originally from Santa Barbara, Doug graduated in 1992 from California State University, Fresno majoring in business with a minor in pre-medicine.  While his dedication to helping those with injuries did not lead him to the ER, it did take him onto the field--baseball and football, that is.  Doug received his certification to be an athletic trainer at CSU Fresno and worked with a variety of athletic teams during his four years, treating athletes who had earned red badges of courage in a quest to maintain the honor of the Bulldogs. From gauze, splints and tape, Doug went on to work as a sales representative for Pillsbury, and then as an account manger for Hallmark.  Nevertheless, he realized after a few years in the workforce that he was not happy following the path on which he found himself despite the financial rewards it provided.  Knowing  he wanted to teach was the first step to his life change, but not knowing what subject led him to defer that dream for a bit. In the interim, he and his wife relocated from the west coast to the east as she enrolled in graduate school at Yale for a nurse practitioner program.  Connecticut's Bridgeport Bluefish, a minor league baseball team, welcomed Doug, and he oversaw its camp, acted as on-field announcer, and drummed up financial support as its group sales manager.

 

This period afforded Doug the time to realize he wanted to blend his interests in physical education and science, a combination that would provide him a broad background of experiences.  Although having applied and been accepted to Harvard and Stanford for studies in education, he decided to pursue his Master of Science at TC because he was intrigued by the school's course offerings, and location.  While he says relocating to the City was an adjustment culturally as well as in terms of the pace of living--he once found himself waiting for three subway trains when he first moved to Manhattan because he was graciously letting everyone else get on ahead of him--he says "it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be."  After all, says Doug, "[It was] something I wanted to do."

 

Initially, Doug was a teaching assistant in the Columbia University athletic department where he supervised a staff of undergraduates as well as taught two courses per semester.  His venture into student teaching began at The School of the Future where he taught 9th and 10th graders the ins-and-outs of biology before moving on the Frederick Douglass Academy to teach physical science to 6th and 7th grade students.  He remembers these experiences were at first "intimidating" because it was "[an] adjustment bringing [the material] to the level of children and relating it to their lives.  I had to learn quickly to over-plan," he laughs, stating that doing so was a tactic that he soon learned to avoid students taking advantage of having unintended free time.

While earning his credential in science education, Doug never lost sight of his goal of teaching physical education.  "I wanted to integrate science and physical education to show [kids] the relevance [between the two]."  After completing his MS degree, he began the degree program in physical education which he says he thoroughly enjoys as he more deeply explores the cognitive learning, motor skills, and psycho-social development of children.  In Spring 2003, Doug student taught grades K-12 at The Trinity School in the City, an independent school that houses a state-of-the-art physical education complex that includes two gymnasiums, tennis courts, a pool and a weight room.  Doug, who holds a K-12 certification, says it was "interesting going from kindergarten to 9th [grade] to 3rd [grade]" when facilitating classes for the school's different age groups.  This time around, his student teaching experience differed in that it was even more hands-on.  "Kids are more blowing off steam in the beginning [of physical education class], so there are instant activities at the beginning," he explains in describing his methodologies in the field.  In physical education, Doug says, "It's so much easier to work in groups or on a skill or relate [what is being taught] to other subjects.  There's instant gratification when a child learns a skill like skipping or hopping."

 

Others took notice of Doug's talent for working with children, and several people recommended him for a position at the newly opened The School at Columbia University.  A national search team expressed interest in bringing Doug to the institution, and after three rounds of interviews that included meetings with the head of wellness, the director of curriculum, and the headmaster of the school, Doug is now a wellness teacher for its grades K-2.  The School is unique in several ways.  While 50 percent of its student body are the children of tenured faculty, the other half is comprised of children from the Upper West Side and Washington Heights.  With the exception of seven students, all receive scholarships to help cover the annual tuition of $24,000.  Eighty percent of the teachers are Ivy League undergraduate alumni, 90 percent have Master's degrees, 30 percent have doctorates, and some have taught as many as 30 years.  There are two teachers for every 20 pupils.  During this first year, The School is grades K-4, but will continue to add grade levels in the near future.

 

Doug says parents and their children love The School.  Moreover, he could not be happier to be a part of this vision.  "I have complete carte blanche as far as developing curriculum."  Currently, as part of the integrated curriculum, his students are learning about muscles as well as how to speak the alphabet and numbers in Spanish.  They also play games integrated in movement and gain an understanding about health issues ranging from washing their hands to brushing their teeth.  Despite the fact that he will complete his coursework this December, Doug is now ready to tackle his next big challenge: an Ed.M. in instructional technology before going on for an Ed.D. in physical education and curriculum and teaching.  Some might wonder why he strives to continuously enhance his repertoire of skills, but Doug knows that the nebulous benefits of his efforts make it all worthwhile.  "When a child thanks you for something you've done after a class or at the end of the school year, that's the most rewarding thing; it brings tears to your eyes."

Published Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003

Doug LeBlanc

Doug LeBlanc is living every man's fantasy, earning multiple graduate degrees from one of the most prestigious institutions in the country while pursuing a career he loves as a wellness teacher at The School at Columbia University.  "It's a dream come true," he says, so who can blame him for wanting it to last?  The answer, quite simply, is no one.  Originally from Santa Barbara, Doug graduated in 1992 from California State University, Fresno majoring in business with a minor in pre-medicine.  While his dedication to helping those with injuries did not lead him to the ER, it did take him onto the field--baseball and football, that is.  Doug received his certification to be an athletic trainer at CSU Fresno and worked with a variety of athletic teams during his four years, treating athletes who had earned red badges of courage in a quest to maintain the honor of the Bulldogs. From gauze, splints and tape, Doug went on to work as a sales representative for Pillsbury, and then as an account manger for Hallmark.  Nevertheless, he realized after a few years in the workforce that he was not happy following the path on which he found himself despite the financial rewards it provided.  Knowing  he wanted to teach was the first step to his life change, but not knowing what subject led him to defer that dream for a bit. In the interim, he and his wife relocated from the west coast to the east as she enrolled in graduate school at Yale for a nurse practitioner program.  Connecticut's Bridgeport Bluefish, a minor league baseball team, welcomed Doug, and he oversaw its camp, acted as on-field announcer, and drummed up financial support as its group sales manager.

 

This period afforded Doug the time to realize he wanted to blend his interests in physical education and science, a combination that would provide him a broad background of experiences.  Although having applied and been accepted to Harvard and Stanford for studies in education, he decided to pursue his Master of Science at TC because he was intrigued by the school's course offerings, and location.  While he says relocating to the City was an adjustment culturally as well as in terms of the pace of living--he once found himself waiting for three subway trains when he first moved to Manhattan because he was graciously letting everyone else get on ahead of him--he says "it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be."  After all, says Doug, "[It was] something I wanted to do."

 

Initially, Doug was a teaching assistant in the Columbia University athletic department where he supervised a staff of undergraduates as well as taught two courses per semester.  His venture into student teaching began at The School of the Future where he taught 9th and 10th graders the ins-and-outs of biology before moving on the Frederick Douglass Academy to teach physical science to 6th and 7th grade students.  He remembers these experiences were at first "intimidating" because it was "[an] adjustment bringing [the material] to the level of children and relating it to their lives.  I had to learn quickly to over-plan," he laughs, stating that doing so was a tactic that he soon learned to avoid students taking advantage of having unintended free time.

While earning his credential in science education, Doug never lost sight of his goal of teaching physical education.  "I wanted to integrate science and physical education to show [kids] the relevance [between the two]."  After completing his MS degree, he began the degree program in physical education which he says he thoroughly enjoys as he more deeply explores the cognitive learning, motor skills, and psycho-social development of children.  In Spring 2003, Doug student taught grades K-12 at The Trinity School in the City, an independent school that houses a state-of-the-art physical education complex that includes two gymnasiums, tennis courts, a pool and a weight room.  Doug, who holds a K-12 certification, says it was "interesting going from kindergarten to 9th [grade] to 3rd [grade]" when facilitating classes for the school's different age groups.  This time around, his student teaching experience differed in that it was even more hands-on.  "Kids are more blowing off steam in the beginning [of physical education class], so there are instant activities at the beginning," he explains in describing his methodologies in the field.  In physical education, Doug says, "It's so much easier to work in groups or on a skill or relate [what is being taught] to other subjects.  There's instant gratification when a child learns a skill like skipping or hopping."

 

Others took notice of Doug's talent for working with children, and several people recommended him for a position at the newly opened The School at Columbia University.  A national search team expressed interest in bringing Doug to the institution, and after three rounds of interviews that included meetings with the head of wellness, the director of curriculum, and the headmaster of the school, Doug is now a wellness teacher for its grades K-2.  The School is unique in several ways.  While 50 percent of its student body are the children of tenured faculty, the other half is comprised of children from the Upper West Side and Washington Heights.  With the exception of seven students, all receive scholarships to help cover the annual tuition of $24,000.  Eighty percent of the teachers are Ivy League undergraduate alumni, 90 percent have Master's degrees, 30 percent have doctorates, and some have taught as many as 30 years.  There are two teachers for every 20 pupils.  During this first year, The School is grades K-4, but will continue to add grade levels in the near future.

 

Doug says parents and their children love The School.  Moreover, he could not be happier to be a part of this vision.  "I have complete carte blanche as far as developing curriculum."  Currently, as part of the integrated curriculum, his students are learning about muscles as well as how to speak the alphabet and numbers in Spanish.  They also play games integrated in movement and gain an understanding about health issues ranging from washing their hands to brushing their teeth.  Despite the fact that he will complete his coursework this December, Doug is now ready to tackle his next big challenge: an Ed.M. in instructional technology before going on for an Ed.D. in physical education and curriculum and teaching.  Some might wonder why he strives to continuously enhance his repertoire of skills, but Doug knows that the nebulous benefits of his efforts make it all worthwhile.  "When a child thanks you for something you've done after a class or at the end of the school year, that's the most rewarding thing; it brings tears to your eyes."

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