Leslie English, an early childhood special education teacher and a teacher for the visually impaired with Rainbows’ Sedgwick County Infant/Toddler Services, is known as a fighter: for herself (she’s a two-time cancer survivor), her family, her co-workers and for the children and families of Rainbows.
“Leslie makes strong bonds with the families she serves,” said Alexia Foster, Sedgwick County Infant/Toddler Coordinator. “This is evidenced by families requesting her when they have a second child entering services. I think she builds these strong relationships with families because she listens to her parents, is empathetic to their struggles as parents and is fiercely supportive of their efforts.”
One parent said, “Leslie very gently and lovingly reminded me that Dottie was a baby, not a diagnosis. And that we were going to support this perfect baby in meeting her developmental goals. She told me, ‘High goals are nothing to be ashamed of’.”
Leslie supports her co-workers too, whether that is by sharing her knowledge of children with visual impairment or by making meals for a staff member in crisis.
Leslie is a life-long learner, committed to enhancing her education and knowledge base. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Kansas State University, got married the weekend after graduation and moved back home to raise a family. After having 3 of their 4 sons, Leslie started her own preschool in a wing of her church and then went on to be the director of a local day care center in Eureka.
“I felt the need to expand my education, so I enrolled at Emporia State to begin courses in Early Childhood Special Education,” said Leslie. “During that time, Rainbows hired me as a classroom teacher the first year Kids’ Cove opened. One year, I commuted from Eureka to teach during the day and then drove to Emporia for night classes. I graduated from Emporia State in December of 1997 with a Masters in Early Childhood Special Education.”
A fellow teacher for Rainbows approached Leslie to see if she would be interested in working in the field of vision impairment. “I felt that was my next calling,” said Leslie. “So off to the University of Nebraska I went for 3 summers to receive my certificate in Vision Impairment.”
Leslie will celebrate her 25-year milestone at Rainbows in 2021. For 25 years, she has been an advocate for Rainbows’ children and families and a source of inspiration and strength for Rainbows’ team members.
Leslie is a proud mother and grandmother. She and her husband of 42 years have 4 sons, 4 daughters-in-law, 7 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. Leslie’s favorite hobby is sewing baby quilts for grandchildren, co-workers and friends.