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One of the finest, fairest teachers

October 26, 2011

As a former grateful advanced placement calculus student of Gabrielle Leko's, I was concerned to read of the allegations made of one of my favorite high school teachers, and heartbroken that LCHS might lose her. In light of the upcoming school board election, the press has been focused on our district's inability to identify and address weak teaching. Gabrielle Leko was one of the finest and fairest teachers I had during my time at LCHS. Seven years later I can still remember her system vividly; from the daily quizzes that tested our mastery of the prior day's lesson and homework, to the care she took in grading tests and showing us step-by-step where we had gone wrong, to the giant happy face beside your grade when you got an A.

Leko demanded discipline and taught structured organization skills that would serve me well when I headed off to college, where no one was looking over your shoulder to be sure you kept your notes, assignments and tests in order. She was always available and always helpful. Math was the most difficult subject for me, and she was a patient tutor, one-on-one, if you took the time to ask.

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Aside from her skill and hard work as a teacher, Leko was a commanding presence in the classroom, but one with a sense of humor who deeply cared about her students.

I emailed Ms. Leko after a disappointing grade on my first college calculus exam and she responded with encouragement and kindness.

I can't address whether or not she made the alleged comments, but I will never believe that she meant them to hurt or offend. Few (if any) teachers can boast universal popularity, and I hope that the praise for Leko as a teacher and as a person is taken in account as much as the allegations and insinuations against her.

Leko's classroom was always my first stop when visiting LCHS after graduation.

I hope I'll still find her there if I happen upon the campus in the future. If not, the mathematics program at LCHS will have been done a great disservice.

Kara Murphy

La Cañada Flintridge

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