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Heroes in the Arkansas Tennis Community

USTA Arkansas would like to thank all the Heroes in our Arkansas Tennis Community!  If you know of a Hero in our community we could highlight please email Brittany@ArkTennis.com.


August 2016 Hero: Leandra Tipton, High School Teacher & Tennis Coach


Why did you want to become a teacher?tipton_classPic

I knew I wanted to teach from a very early age. Like many others in my field, I had the good fortune of having inspirational and caring teachers growing up. I was a troubled kid from a less-than-perfect home and without those early interactions and interventions with compassionate educators; my life most certainly would have been very different.

My favorite grade school teacher, Ms. Mobbs, took the initiative to cultivate my growth as a student and as an individual. She always took the time to encourage me to be strong. Today, as I work with my students, I remember being like many of them. I remember the difficulty of focusing on school and try to impress upon them that this is just one phase of many in life that will be great, if you work hard, surround yourself with positive energy, and stay motivated. Every day I strive to empower all students with tools that will help them to be successful in the future. I have a special place in my heart for my teens who are struggling and I constantly tell them to use these experiences as stepping stones, not crutches. Naturally, I hope to fill all my students with as much knowledge of my content as possible, but most importantly, I want to encourage them to have values, believe in themselves and have courage to embrace the life they are meant to lead.

Which School District do you work for?

This is my 8th year with the Little Rock School District. I teach Family Consumer Science, Advise FCCLA and Coach Tiger Tennis at Central High.

What do you believe is the "Role of the Teacher" in the learning process for youth?

Teachers wear A LOT of hats. We are Instructional and Curriculum Specialists, Resource Producers, Micromanagers, Counselors, Disciplinarians, and the ultimate Record Keepers. In the learning process, however, teachers are facilitators. It is our primary focus to enable students to take ownership of their studies. As facilitators, teachers must provide students the tools and information they need to be successful in and out of the classroom. Teachers must always monitor and adjust learning to suit the many types of learners. Teachers must constantly assess and identify student strengths and weaknesses. We must also continue learning ourselves so that we can provide relevant and up-to-date assistance to our students.

What is your favorite part of being an educator?

Amazing things happen in our classrooms every day. To see children grow into independent and mature thinkers is incredible. So much growth happens throughout the course of the school year. My most favorite part of being a teacher is being blessed to play a role in so many lives. I cherish the relationships I build with the students.

What is your most proud moment as an educator?

Graduation nights are an annual highlight. I love seeing young adults walk across the Verizon stage to accept their diplomas. You can tell by the excitement and celebration that dreams have come to life, and much more is on the horizon.

What keeps you coming back?

There are definitely challenges in my career. Some days are chaotic and you feel like You.Are.Drowning. I fail regularly in my walk to be a good educator, but students are always first. I remember well my roots, and I know, much like young Leandra, someone is in my class looking for the answers to keep pushing them forward. I remind myself that there is someone here today who needs love, guidance, support, and structure.

If you were a superhero, which power would you have?

I would love to have healing power. With this power, obviously, I would heal those with terminal illness and return to them their healthy bodies. With this power, too, I could strengthen the weak and restore the broken. So many of us suffer from a wide array of afflictions including self-esteem issues, mental illness, broken homes and families, addictions, etc. How incredible to be able to eradicate issues that cripple us on the daily!  

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?

I believe in pushing forward and seeking opportunities for growth. Personally, I want to complete a Master’s of Education. I would love the opportunity to teach at the college level one day. I would like to work with new teachers who are entering this exciting field.

What advice would you give to children?

Never let your voice be stifled... You have more power than you realize, use it to lift up those around you.

Do you have any personal heroes?

My mom was my first hero. She sacrificed a lot. She was my best friend and confidant. Even though she has passed, I carry her with me everywhere. She taught me how to forgive, be kind and love unconditionally.

My students are my heroes. Every day, so many young people set aside their worries and troubles to come to school with that burning desire to overcome their circumstances. The determination and perseverance demonstrated by these heroes is incredible and could truly inspire anyone.

When did you start playing tennis and what is your favorite shot?

I started playing tennis in 2010. My go-to shot is the cross court angle. My favorite shot is the drop shot..That skill has been somewhat illusive to me.

What do you enjoy most about the game of tennis?

As a tennis player, my favorite part is the mental aspect. Tennis is such a mental sport and it is tough to fight the battle within yourself on the court. To be able to set aside the noise and clearly focus on the ball is sometimes an act of futility…however, I always like to push myself to the limits.

As a coach, I love watching my young athletes develop a passion for the game and all that it encompasses..practice, sportsmanship, competition, etc.

What is your favorite USTA League or USTA tournament?

My favorite league is definitely Mixed. It has always been my favorite season. It is short, but highly competitive. You get to play a lot of people you don’t see in regular league.  






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