Magical. That’s what parents and colleagues alike say about Leanne Strubhar’s kindergarten classes at Chesterbrook Elementary School in McLean. She goes above and beyond, making learning fun and engaging for her students as they begin their educational journey.
“When Mrs. Strubhar is in front of a classroom of students, she creates magic,” says Chesterbrook Principal Stacy Kirkpatrick. “Her lessons come alive with hands-on learning, active student collaborating, and student exploration.”
With exceptional projects like “leprechaun hunts” with clues hidden across the school, frame-worthy art projects, adorable handmade gingerbread houses, and “cool tricks” to make math easier, Strubhar transforms the mundane, earning her the nickname “Mary Poppins.”
“I swear her bag of tricks is endless,” says Sarah Swinehart, who has had two children in Strubhar’s classes. “Her enthusiasm for learning is contagious.”
Strubhar started teaching kindergarten at Chesterbrook in 2017 and serves as the lead mentor overseeing new teachers. An educator since 1993, she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Florida.
“One of the best moments is being able to see the lightbulb go on,” Strubhar says of watching a student connect all the skills they’ve worked on in class. “It’s as exciting as seeing your own child take their first steps.”
Parents say that Strubhar makes them better moms and dads.
“As much as Mrs. Strubhar is teaching the kids, she is also teaching us to be better parents and how to instill a love of learning in our kids,” says Swinehart.
Another parent explained that Strubhar brings simple joy back to childhood for both kids and adults. She held a “Bring Your Stuffed Animal to School” reward day. When her students left the classroom, she rearranged the animals around the learning centers, with stuffed animals building Legos, playing cards together, and reading books. The children were enchanted.
A gifted photographer, the Teacher of the Year finalist often texts parents photos of their children engaged in fun activities and provides much-appreciated classroom updates.
“It is very difficult to send your first child off to kindergarten,” says Sabrina McBride, “but Mrs. Strubhar gave me a window into my daughter’s world that let me know she was doing OK and having fun learning.”
Colleagues and parents say kids feel welcome, heard, and valued thanks to Strubhar’s calm demeanor and positive classroom environment.
“Childhood is so magical in itself, and kindergarten is such a magical year,” Strubhar says. “I don’t ever want them to forget it.”