Despite a long, traffic-filled commute from Jersey City, new teacher David Leach is almost as happy to be teaching at Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies @ Englewood as he would be riding his motorcycle. It is a new type of school for him and an opportunity to teach what he loves.
Although he is a math teacher, he teaches much more than just math at DMAE: he also teaches Robotics, Electronics, Intro to Technology, and Ethics. Before he came to Englewood, Mr. Leach taught in South Brunswick. The environment there was different from DMAE for many reasons; one reason was that many students were not college oriented and often did not know what they were going to do after high school.
“Unlike the students here, the ones in South Brunswick didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives,” Mr. Leach said. “The classes there were more standard and not specialized to a certain type of academic interest.”
Nevertheless, he liked teaching there, however, he explained that what he likes most about teaching at the Academies is the chance to teach classes such as Robotics and Technology.
“The classes here are more challenging and specific; there is not only Biology but electives like Virology and Marine Biology. I feel like I can do so much more than I could anywhere else,” he said.
Students have also met Mr. Leach’s expectations. He likes how focused students are and how they openly accept academic challenges.
Mr. Leach has had a varied path to teaching. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Cooper Union University in Civil Engineering and later completed his master’s degree in Business administration at Rutgers University. In between, he taught at South Brunswick High School for two and a half years. After completing his master’s degree, he did not return to teaching right away. Instead, he worked in the Information Technology field for six years while also getting a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering at Cooper Union. It was after that the second master’s degree that he returned to teaching. He learned that teaching was his calling.
“When I was working in the technology field for the Institute for International Education, I was going to school part-time for my master’s degree when I ran into some of my former high school students,” Mr. Leach said. “While I was talking to them, I realized that I made more of a difference in education as a teacher than as part of a non-profit organization.”
Mr. Leach has had many memorable experiences with high school, both as a teacher and as a student. In high school, Mr. Leach was an athlete. He played basketball, was on the wrestling team for a year, and ran cross-country and track for three years for which he won a few medals.
Even now, Mr. Leach still loves sports and being outdoors. He is a huge Devils fan and a fan of the former New Jersey Nets. Of course, he rides his motorcycle on beautiful days when he has the time, and he also loves to travel, whether it is around the country or around the world. As of now, Mr. Leach has traveled to approximately 25 different countries.
“One of my goals is to visit as many places in the world as I can,” Mr. Leach said.
The first motorcycle Mr. Leach ever owned was a Honda Mini Trail that he drove around on hills and trails when he was just six years old. Later, he owned a Dual Sports Yamaha TW 200 to get around town. Today he rides a Yamaha 1200 V-Max and took it on a 1,851- mile trip from his hometown of West Orange, New Jersey, to San Antonio, Texas, last summer. The trip took two weeks and Mr. Leach had a lot of memorable experiences along the way.
“When I was driving through Nashville I went to an underground music show,” Mr. Leach said. It was cool because they played instruments that are almost never used — a Suzuki omnichord, for example. I’ve never heard anything like it, like a synth pop mixed with country style.”
According to Mr. Leach, as challenging as his two-week motorcycle trek to San Antonio was, he believes it doesn’t match up to what his friends have done. One of his closest friends, Jeremy, has visited more than 100 countries, and another friend, Lester, had the courage to change his entire life by spontaneously quitting his job and moving to another state. He thinks of these guys as his heroes for doing the amazing and the unexpected.
Mr. Leach may not be like his heroes, yet, but he does have a unique personality that makes him stand out. For one thing, he loves to eat Sour Patch Kids; he will eat them anywhere at any time. For another, he is truly fascinated with synthesizers and the unique sounds of electronic music. His acclaim may be bringing the new Electronic Music Club to DMAE.
“I like synthesizers, or the idea behind synthesizers, and something like this has always been interesting to me,” Mr. Leach said.
In the meantime, Mr. Leach will keep planning his trips, he will keep listening to his 90s hip hop bands, including De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Ratatat, and he’ll plan out lessons on Calculus and Algebra, and Robotics and Technology for the students of DMAE.