The Outlet: Leslie Rheingold

In this issue’s recurring segment that gives students an opportunity to learn more about the teachers they see every day, staffer Rachel Alexander interviews Holocaust History and English teacher, Mrs. Rheingold.

What is the most valuable lesson you have ever learned?

We have the power to resist the influences of immoral people. Everyone has that choice and it is up to individuals to have a positive impact on people by small and large gestures of kindness.

What is something your students have taught you?

They have taught me that it is important to listen to them. They are important and when they are sad or angry, it is often because they may be going through difficult times too.

Why did you choose to teach Holocaust History Honors and why is it important for students to learn about it?

Soon Holocaust survivors will all be gone. Holocaust denial, the revisionist movement denying that a systematic genocide of the Jews during WWII took place, is growing stronger. Anti- Semitism is on the rise across the globe. My ancestors were deported from the Radom Ghetto to Auschwitz where they perished. If we do not learn from this horrific period, historians will live through it or something similar to it again. In fact, genocides are occurring now as you are reading this. Only seven states have passed a law mandating Holocaust education in some form to be taught in all of its schools from an early age. For every student I teach here at the Bay, I count on him or her to teach someone else to recognize evil and prevent it from taking root.

What is one thing you can’t imagine your life without?

I cannot imagine myself without the opportunity to be a public school teacher. I have been teaching since 1977 and have met and interacted with thousands of students, many of whom I still keep in touch with today. Teaching has been my life’s purpose and passion. I can’t imagine who I would be if I had not been a teacher.

What is a shocking experience you have had while teaching?

I have been shocked on more than one occasion to learn about a student’s death by suicide. I wish I had been able to see that the students were in so much pain and wish I could have done something to help them.

If you had one day to change the world what would you do?

I try to change the world one act of kindness at a time. Everyday is the day to change the world.

What is some advice you would give to kids in high school?

My advice to students in high school would be to reach out to people who seem shy or lonely. You can make a huge difference by being kind, smiling, saying hello or just acknowledging another person who you walk past every day. One other piece of advice is to read good books.

Is teaching your dream job?

Teaching is my dream job. I wanted to be a teacher as a little girl. I used to line up my dolls and make them my students. I was lucky I had so many wonderful teachers as role models who inspired me to become a teacher. I love seeing light bulbs go off inside my students’ heads when they get it or love the book we are reading.

What is the biggest goal you have ever accomplished?

I raised my daughters alone. Seeing them grow into healthy, intelligent, compassionate and successful adults is my greatest accomplishment.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I do not have one person who has inspired me. I am inspired every day by my students. It sounds cliché, but it is the truth. They make me want to get out of bed, come to work, and learn.








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