By Emile Creel
“One of my favorite parts of my job is building relationships with all the educators we encounter,” said Leanne Long, an associate research professor with the Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU). “It’s one of the things we do well because we are in the field with them.
Long is a well-known face in the field and in the office with the professional learning team after leading professional development for career and technical education (CTE) teachers and administrators for 15 years with the RCU.
Long’s work with professional development began as an instructional technologist at Hinds Community College training educators on how to use technology before she joined the RCU. She now is a vital part of the New Teacher Induction program that provides an alternative route for new CTE teachers to reach certification. With this program, she plans, schedules trainers and coaches, and leads training. She also assists with the CTE Administrator’s Academy and leads sessions at several annual state conferences for educators. Additionally, she provides support for computer science teacher training as part of the RCU’s work with the Mississippi Department of Education’s Computer Science for Mississippi initiative.
Long’s contact with the teachers she encounters doesn’t end with one training session. She is often in the field for observations and continued support to ensure educators are supported throughout the school year, especially the new teachers she is guiding through the New Teacher Induction program.
“We have great people in Mississippi’s classrooms,” said Long. “Being in the field with the teachers, I see what they are doing, what they’ve learned, and how successful they are.”
As the RCU provides support to classrooms across the state, Long sees the same supportive environment cultivated with the unit internally. She remarks that she commonly hears “I have an idea” from a coworker and later sees colleagues working together to move that idea to implementation.
“We have collaboration and camaraderie, and I think we need both to grow and work at our best,” said Long. “We also challenge each other in a good way to make each other better.”
Long continues relationship building out in the Starkville community. She is actively involved in Henderson-Ward Elementary School’s parent-teacher organization, serving as the membership chair. Additionally, her family stays busy as her two young children participate in 4-H, outdoor activities, and several sports throughout the year.
“I always want to be involved and supportive of what they are doing,” she said.
The family are also supporters of MSU athletics and can be found on campus many weekends of the fall and spring for football and baseball games.
“There’s always something to do in a college town, but Starkville holds the feel of a small town where you can be a part of the community as well,” Long said.