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LEAD Public Schools

#LEADStaffSpotlight: Joseph Yurchak, LEAD Academy

When you ask a LEAD Academy student or alum about their favorite teachers, there’s one name that always makes the list: Joseph Yurchak.

“I love Mr. Yurchak,” said Victavia Walls, a LEAD Academy Class of 2023 graduate. “He first taught me in AP Psych–I loved the atmosphere. He was in college professor mode and I always looked forward to class.”

Yurchak is a long-time member of the LEAD Academy team, first joining the team in 2016 as an English and psychology teacher and later moving into an instructional manager position. This year, he’s taking on a new role with even wider school impact as LEAD Academy’s assistant principal of instruction in humanities.

Yurchak didn’t envision education becoming a lifelong career path when he first started teaching, but after experiencing the work, he found it to be a career worthy of pursuing.

“It constantly challenges me as a professional and as a human,” said Yurchak.I don’t think there are many career opportunities that are more important than helping people better understand themselves and the world around them.”

While Yurchak holds a significant place in the hearts of his students, he is also strongly valued by his colleagues at LEAD Academy.

“He works hard to create an environment where teachers can be passionate about their content and grow in their field,” said Maggie Sneed, principal at LEAD Academy. “He is also the kind of person you always want on your team: he believes in students, teachers, and in the impact a great school can have on its community–and he does it with a sense of humor and humility that inspires the people around him.”

As for Yurchak’s favorite part of the job, his answer is not what you’d expect. 

“Messing with kids,” said Yurchak. “The work we do is so difficult and feels so high stakes that it takes a toll on all of us. I think it’s important to find the joy in what we do, to make people laugh and help see some of the lightness in our job as well.”

Yurchak uses that strategy of blending the head and the heart in hopes of shaping his students into people that are not only successful, but also good to the world they live in.

“I hope that my students feel impassioned and prepared to pursue their post-secondary goals, and that they move into their young adult lives with a commitment to being a little more observant of the world around them,” said Yurchak. “I hope that they leave LEAD Academy feeling a sense of belonging to a larger humanity and a desire to do something that improves the lives of others.” 

We are proud to have LEADers like Joseph Yurchak serving our students every day. If you’d like to nominate a LEAD staff member for a spotlight, please complete the nomination form here.

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