Leigh Kleinert became a full-time faculty member in 2004. Prior to that, she was teaching as an adjunct faculty at GRCC. She earned her B.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University and her M.H.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Grand Valley State University. She has expertise in human anatomy & physiology, zoology, and Academic Service Learning. Currently, she teaches all of our anatomy & physiology courses. Leigh enjoys doing outdoor activities, cooking, and traveling.
What do you like best about teaching at GRCC?
The people I meet both in and out of the classroom and what I learn from them.
What are the strengths of your program?
The Biology Department offers courses for people pursuing degrees, planning to transfer to four year schools, or just taking one course to fulfill a general education science requirement.
The strengths of our courses are that they are taught by instructors with incredible passion and enthusiasm for the subject, nearly all courses in our department have a laboratory component, which is an opportunity for hands-on engagement with the material, and all courses present you real life application for the material.
Has working in this field always been your career goal, or did you switch tracks at some point?
I had always considered education, but early on in life (since toddlerhood, my mom tells me) I have had a passion for biology. I began college with a plan to work in a zoo on captive breeding and species survival. I contemplated changing to education my sophomore year. I applied to the College of Education and was accepted; many of my friends were denied or waited-listed. I was still so unsure, so I turned down my spot and completed by B.S. in zoology over the next couple years. In a twisty road over the next few years..... it led me straight to education. Education in a field I am extremely passionate about, and working with students that I would not trade working with for anything: teaching human anatomy and physiology at the community college.
In teaching: As Parker Palmer says: "Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher." In other words, know who I am and be my authentic self in the classroom; teach to my heart.
What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you were first starting out in your profession?
In learning the anatomy and physiology of the body: studying with others really does help! When I started graduate school I was new to the area and knew no one. Also, many folks in my small program were younger than me and I felt like I could study better on my own. In my second semester, when I finally happened into a study group, I learned that the group helped me identify what I did not know, taught me different ways to learn, and I helped teach them things I knew which helped me learn better. I also had some familiar faces on campus after that.
How has your ability to connect with students changed in a positive way during the pandemic?
I have volunteered to continue teaching some in-person classes this last year as well as virtual synchronous classes. I am trying to connect with students as much as I can. In my online classes I try to connect through exam reviews and virtual office hours, and small study groups.
Who is your hero and why?
My parents are my heros. I look to them because they have suffered through adversity and taught me how to look at the experiences as how it has made them stronger and the positive lessons from those experiences.
They are also the ones that taught me about perspective. Two important lessons in perspective. One, the old saying: "Is your glass half empty or half full?" We did not have a lot of money growing up and when I would complain about wearing donated hand-me-downs while my friends had the latest trendy fashions, my mom would tell me about her students that had no clothes at all. The other lesson in perspective my parents taught me is about empathy. They told me before judging someone else to picture things from their perspective. "Walk in their shoes," they would say, "and how would you feel?" I do not think I realized how wise they really are until I became a teacher and a parent.