I always wanted to be a teacher. Well, that is of course after wanting to be a professional baseball player – first female in the major leagues I might add. Yes, I had big dreams, but after suffering a serious knee injury trying out for the OWBL (Ontario Women’s Baseball League), it was off to university to pursue a different career path.
But let’s back track a little. I grew up in London, Ontario, with my mom and younger sister, spending weekends with my Dad who lived just down the street. I was a student Cartier P.S and it was during this time in my life that I discovered I wanted to be a teacher. My inspiration? His name was Fred Fickling. He was my grade 8 teacher.
After graduating high school in 1995, I spent several months backpacking across Canada before attending the University of Western Ontario to pursue a degree in Kinesiology. It was later that summer that my baseball career ended. And a new chapter in my life began. It was then that I decided I was going to be a teacher.
During my first year of university I lived off campus with some friends, and worked part-time waiting tables at a busy bar in London – a job that later paid for all of my years of post secondary education. And after my second year in the Kinesiology program, I decided to switch majors and pursue a BA, Honors degree in English Language and Literature. Writing had become my passion. After graduation in 1999 (and a season bartending in the Muskokas), I had been accepted into the 2 year B.Ed program at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was off to experience Canada’s East Coast.
In 2003 I graduated with my B. Ed and returned home to Ontario. I cozied up with my mom and stepdad as I looked for a place to live and applied for teaching jobs in Ontario. I had returned to work at that busy bar in London where I later met my husband. And it was that spring that I was hired by the Avon Maitland District School Board.
Brandon and I were married the following summer on Lake Bernard in the northern Ontario wilderness. We have 2 beautiful children, Halle and Ty, and they are the centre of our universe.
I worked as an educator with the Avon Maitland District School Board for 15 years teaching students in the primary and intermediate grades, and working at the System level as a Coach supporting technology-enabled learning and teaching and literacy in K-12. During my career in AMDSB, I founded my own educational not-for-profit, Digital Human Library to connect students with experts around the world. Over the years I have founded a number of provincial educational initiatives, and one national level project and I’m always on the look out for new opportunities to create experiential learning opportunities for teachers and students.
Today I work as an Education and Innovation Consultant, and I’m back in the classroom this year teaching Kindergarten for the AMDSB. My passion is connections-based learning and inspiring in others an appreciation of how our lives are continuously enriched through the process of learning.
Short Professional Bio
Leigh Cassell is an educator, adventurer, entrepreneur and partner in learning with teachers, students, businesses and NGOs around the world. Leigh is an Education and Innovation Consultant, and Founder and CEO at Digital Human Library. Driven by her passion to inspire in others a love of learning, Leigh’s work in education focuses on building relationships in ways that leverage digital technologies, develop global competencies, design new literacies, and prepare students to succeed as next generation learners. Leigh is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Microsoft Innovative Educator, Google Certified Educator, SMART Certified Interactive Teacher, and a Founding Partner of Live Learning Canada.