Remembering ETHS: Leslie Connie


Photo courtesy of Leslie Connie.

Phoebe Porter, Staff Writer

Since 1990, Leslie Connie has been an ETHS special education teacher. Throughout her career, Connie has built close relationships with all of her students and values the bond they have created.

“I’m going to miss my kids the most,” Connie said. “I’m a big mama. I’m not concerned about you just passing my class. I’m concerned about you passing life; it’s bigger than just what your grade was on homework.”

Connie worked with freshmen and juniors, arranging their meetings and ensuring that each of their cases was up-to-date with social work. From 2014-2017,  Connie was also responsible for observing incoming students to make sure that the school could accommodate their needs. In the Evanston community, she values the close relationship between the school and local employers.

“The business community is very supportive of the high school and hiring our kids. They’re able to share with us what things they’re noticing students don’t have, what skills they’re not coming with when they look for jobs so that we can build them into our curriculum so that [students] will have [those skills] once they graduate and are ready to go to the world of work in Evanston,” Connie said.

To her students, Connie’s best advice is not to get too caught up in anything that doesn’t serve you.

“Do something different, move forward. You know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. My students, they don’t like to change, but change has to occur in order for us to get better too…. [and most importantly] read,” Connie says. 

To new teachers, she says, “get a handle on your paperwork. There’s no way you get around it” and “to find a mentor immediately in the building, somebody that you can vent to. Don’t focus on titles because oftentimes the person with the title is not the person with the knowledge.

Connie’s favorite ETHS memory is the special education department’s black history month celebrations which took place for two years in the South Study Cafe during time which the entire department was invited for a potluck lunch organized by the students.

“All of the teachers cooked for the kids, and the kids put that program together: they learned about organization, they learned how to make an invitation, they did all of the entertainment, they did all of the decorating and they literally did all the set-up and the cleanup. It was an opportunity for them to share what they had learned. It was nice. We always had a good time.”

In the future, Connie plans to spend two years living in Texas while her daughter finishes college before moving to Panama to retire.

“I have enjoyed myself at Evanston. I think about the kids that I have worked with, the colleagues that I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I think I have had an excellent career at ETHS.”