Humans of South Forsyth – Leah McGray

Kate Geiger, Columns Editor

Social studies teacher Ms. Leah McGray has been a teacher at South Forsyth High School for the past five years. She loves building connections with her students and teachers all around her. Her passion for teaching sprouted from watching her mother and her unique teaching style.

“I could remember sitting in her room and just having a feeling that [teaching] was my destiny,” Ms. McGray exclaimed. 

Little did she know, teaching would have a remarkable impact on her life, and she would create lasting relationships with people from all walks of life. Additionally, each and every teacher has a favorite part about teaching at a school. For Ms. McGray, her favorite moments include bonding with her students and laughing with her colleagues.

My favorite parts of my job include building connections with students and colleagues,” she said, “Coming in to see faces this year, especially since we were quarantined last year, I think you realize just how much the job means and how important seeing the kids is.

Proper communication and connections are important aspects of positive mental health. In fact, for Ms. McGray, understanding and caring for her students’ mental health is an essential part of her teaching style.

“Mental health is important to me because it is the foundation for a student. If [a students’] mental health is not stable or where it needs to be, then teaching content is irrelevant. They really need to be secure in their own emotional needs before they can try and tackle other needs. I try to have open communication with them where they can come talk to me. I also send out random affirmations to them, and I was doing pulse checks with them frequently to assess where they were and how they felt.”

Ms. McGray has a certain memory that highlights why mental health is important to her as a teacher.

“I have a student this year who does not believe in herself. She reached out to me and said I was the first teacher who believed in her, and [as a result] she actually started trying in school and she never had [before]. To me, just knowing that I have helped somebody see their worth and their value is the best memory that I have.”