by Lea Hunerkoch, LL’16, gcLi-Penn/GSE Scholarship for School Leadership ‘22-’23
- Who are your favorite writers?
Several books that have had a significant impression on me include Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and all the Harry Potter books!
- Who are your heroes in real life?
My heroes are my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother had high expectations and didn’t take BS from anyone. She taught me the importance of family and never sent me home without a doggie bag. My paternal grandmother is deeply loving and always the coolest person in the room. She taught me to explore the world and to do what I love.
- Who or what motivated you to become an educator?
The year I stopped going to my sleepaway camp to get a ‘real job’ was the year I realized working with young adolescents was my passion and my calling. I deeply missed laughing, playing, and growing with my campers as they gained confidence in themselves and began to find their place in the world. That summer, I decided to become a teacher and I never looked back.
- Your idea of happiness…
When I can fully exist in the moment and exhale deeply.
- In a nutshell, what is your definition of leadership?
Leadership is the combination of courage and empathy. This definition was shared at Leadership Lab 2016 and it has stuck with me ever since.
- What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, a sense of humor, the ability to listen, and the willingness to push me out of my comfort zone.
- What do you do for self-renewal?
Spend time with friends and family, travel, cook and eat good food, play tennis, ski, and get outside.
- Who is your hero/ heroine of fiction?
Nakia, General Okoye, Queen Ramonda, and Princess Shuri from Black Panther. These women demonstrate loyalty, bravery, confidence, intelligence, empathy, a sense of humor, and the ability to stay true to oneself. They are passionate and inspiring women who embody leadership in many different ways.
- What is your current state of mind?
Despite the exhaustion of the end of the school year, I am pretty excited about what’s ahead. I’m excited for a slower pace over the next few months and to travel with friends and family this summer. I’m excited for the energy and opportunities of a new school year full of lots of change. Finally, I’m excited to continue to grow as an educator and as a leader.
UPDATE – This year has been all about newness for me and the first month has been a rollercoaster as a result. However, I come to work with a sense of wonder and excitement for what each day will bring. What has kept me grounded has been the deep sense of community amongst my colleagues and the sheer joy I get from watching students learn and grow every single day. I have a sense of rejuvenation that I craved and I’m riding that wave as long as I can!
Lea Hunerkoch will step into two new roles this fall as Middle School Assistant Director and Teaching Fellows Coordinator at Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, MD. Prior to this year, Lea has been a history teacher and 8th Grade Dean at Holton. Previously, Lea spent five years as a history teacher, Grade Level Team Leader, and Middle School History Department Chair at the Emery/Weiner School in Houston, TX. She loves watching students grow during the middle school years as they begin to find their voice and use it for positive change in their communities. Lea is a Lab grad and this year’s recipient of the gcLi-Penn/GSE scholarship for School Leadership.