We will publish the Life Stories of individuals who work or study hard to be productive members of society. The focus will be mainly on women and people of color who have successfully studied and entered their career field of choice. Stories will be of individuals who are considered a cynosure because of the real path (meaning the path of most individuals is the one less traveled and is not smooth because of wear and tear) taken to accomplish her/his goals.
My late brother Leon Adrian Lester’s memory inspired me to create a space online to share and grow with others. Leon was endearing, and he often made one laugh. He struggled to find his academic niche within the New York City school system. His guidance counselor at Tilden High School in Brooklyn took the time to invite my mother to a conference. Leon was in the 11th grade, and he did not want to remain at Tilden High School. The Linden Learning Center was highly recommended by his guidance counselor. After attending this institution for nine weeks, Leon gained his General Equivalency Diploma.
Just like Leon, many students are struggling to find themselves. As teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and mentors we need to listen to these students in order to help them achieve academic success!
Story Excerpts of Interest and Inspiration
Leon Adrian Lester
November 5, 1968 – January 21, 2003
Leon was born in Guyana, South America on November 5, 1968. From the day he was born, our family knew he would grow up to be a special young man who would be loved and respected by all who knew him.
My brother attended Enterprise Prep School in Georgetown, Guyana prior to migrating to Brooklyn, New York during the summer of 1978. He continued his education at several public schools and eventually entered Tilden High School and the Linden Learning Center. After attending only three years of school, Leon began to experience some confusion as to the direction that he wanted to follow in the future. He contacted his school guidance counselor who requested a personal meeting with my mother to discuss Leon’s educational needs at this point in his life. With the assistance of his counselor, it was decided that my brother would leave school and enter a GED program.
It was a good decision. Leon not only completed the program in nine weeks, but then went on to study at two community colleges in the New York City area. My brother was searching for what he believed would be the “right fit” for him academically as well as professionally. Still confused as to the path he should follow, Leon wandered from the fields of automotive mechanic to nursing. It was here that he found his calling. A career in psychiatric nursing fascinated him and he began to pursue that goal. He received his license as an LPN in the summer of 1993 and his life was moving in an incredibly positive direction. But unfortunately, other changes were also on the way.
After his marriage to Sheridan and the birth of his beloved Cori, the family moved to Petersburg, Virginia. It was here that Leon attended John Tyler Community to become a registered nurse. When he decided on the field of psychiatric nursing, this became the focus of his ambitions. He devoted all of his time and effort into his work at the Poplar Springs Hospital. For Leon, who overcame educational difficulties as a young man, life was truly moving in the right direction. With his wonderful family by his side, and his career moving forward, Leon has all the right ingredients for a wonderful life. Little did anyone know that an unknown medical problem would change things drastically.Cori at age 3 months, Brooklyn, New York
On Saturday, January 25, 2003 a stunned and emotionally shaken group of family, friends and co-workers stood together at the funeral of Leon Adrian Lester. A heart condition that no one was aware of took his life at the age of 34. Leon was a loving husband, father, brother, son and friend. He had so many wonderful qualities and was loved and admired by many people. His ability to find humor is every type of situation helped him to get along with everyone he met during his short life.
Left to remember and smile about the many memorable moments in Leon’s life are his loving wife, daughter, mother, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and many friends. Not many people leave us with such a wonderful legacy. We miss him every day.
Cori - Leon's daughter was nine years old when he died.Cori - June 2010
Here is Cori, seven and a half years after Leon passed. She is now eighteen years old. Cori is autistic with some learning disabilities and does not have a lot of language but her Listening Literacy is very good.
Phoebe Nethercote, BS, MS, Ph.D.
Although Phoebe Nethercote was born in Austin, Texas, her childhood years were spent traveling around the east coast and attending a variety of public schools. She eventually completed her high school career in Corpus Christi, Texas, and then went on to study at The University of Texas at Austin.
Phoebe cannot remember a time when her love of mathematics and science were not major influences in her life. Her father, a physicist, would always spend time with his daughter helping her with her math homework and teaching her little “short cuts” to get the answers to problems quickly. With his guidance, mathematics held a special appeal for her and eventually this subject became a major factor in her life and her career.
This is still evident even when Phoebe remembers her elementary school classes. In one particular third grade class, the teacher must have realized her students could handle more challenging work. She carefully devised a system where instead of teaching the required curriculum, she began teaching the fourth grade math program. Not only did the children find it exciting to be doing advanced work, but also it reinforced Phoebe’s love of this subject. She often speaks of how lucky she was to have several wonderful teachers that made the subject exciting and more than interesting. This obviously led to her desire to pursue the field with intensity.
At the University of Texas, Phoebe was awarded double baccalaureate degrees in Math and Computer Science. She continued her educational pursuit and eventually reached her highest goal when she earned a PhD in Computer Science Education.
Phoebe used her earlier learning to motivate her own students as she entered into a career in teaching. But she has actually taken this one step forward. Having been aware from an early age that if, as she puts it “you can appeal to the mind-set of the students in your classroom, it can make all of the difference in how they learn the subject.” She strongly believes that anyone can learn any skill if they are properly motivated. She went on to explore her philosophy in her dissertation when she created the learning theory of “pedagogical positivism.” When learning becomes fun and does not feel like a chore, Phoebe states, actual learning will take place.
This philosophy has brought her unlimited success. She enjoys analyzing various teaching methods that are used in the classrooms across the country and uses her theory to measure the progress of learning and evaluating whether objectives are being met. The challenging field of education, for Phoebe Nethercote, has been a lifelong involvement in an exciting and extremely rewarding career.
La Vergne Lester Thatch, BE, ME, Sp.D., Ph.D.
La Vergne Lester Thatch was born in Georgetown, Guyana. Her childhood years were difficult ones, as she was raised in a family where physical and psychological abuse was prevalent. Despite these turbulent years, La Vergne managed to overcome personal difficulties and matured into a determined and productive young woman.
She attended schools in Guyana until her family migrated to Brooklyn, New York in January of 1980. She continued her education there, and graduated from Tilden High School with her mind set on becoming a mechanical engineer. Although her home life continued to be difficult, La Vergne entered counseling and continued her education at a local college. Her initial academic career was beset with many struggles for her, but she was accepted into a graduate engineering program in August of 1991. With the help of her family and close friends, she learned to deal with her doubts that she could complete the post-graduate program. The emotional trauma of her earlier years and her failed marriage had left scars on La Vergne that were difficult for her to overcome. However, as time passed and she began to gain more confidence in her abilities, La Vergne graduated with her long sought after degree in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York. Eager to continue her work with young people, she continued her academic studies and received a Specialist Diploma in School Administration and Supervision from Queens College of New York.
In 1993, La Vergne landed her first teaching job in a middle school in Brooklyn, New York. She was a woman of many talents and not only taught such subjects as life/earth science and mathematics, but coordinated the science fairs for that school. Her desire to keep rising above expectations helped her to move on to teach high school mathematics and zoology in Queens, New York. When she was appointed Dean of Discipline from 1999 to 2001, La Vergne realized that her potential for success had no limits.
After her relocation to Texas to pursue a doctoral degree in Science Education, she worked as a graduate research assistant as part of a team that was developing and distributing Online Teacher Reading Academies (K-4). It was during these years, that she began to formulate her ideas for creating her own consulting firm. Currently, Dr. Lester Thatch is the owner, founder and director of The Education STREaM, Inc. Using her many years of experience in the field of education, she has created a learning center that provides one-on-one tutoring in the areas of Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering and Mathematics.
The story of La Vergne Lester Thatch is one to be admired and emulated. Having lived through and survived an emotionally charged childhood, a failed marriage, the loss of her brother who was not only her best friend, but also her confidante with whom she had an incredibly close bond, her life has moved in an extremely positive direction. She has been married for seven wonderful years and is the mother of a beautiful young child.
A Glimpse into Our Lives
Our Wedding Day, Saturday 24th May 2003 - Fairhope, AlabamaElke at age 3 months, Austin, Texas Our Family, The Thatch Trio/Elke at 6 months old, Austin, Texas
It is no wonder that La Vergne has the feeling that all people can overcome personal struggles and become the best that they can be. Through her tutoring and learning center, she has taken on a challenge to help those that also are struggling with many of the issues that she too, once had to deal with. Her philosophy is one where all children can succeed and capture their dreams if they have the help to do so. If each individual knows that they can be successful, La Vergne believes that they can be just that. She is a living example of that philosophy and her dream is to help others achieve their dreams. And who is better to accomplish that goal, than one individual who has overcome great odds and is now a model of success.
AKA: La Vergne Lestermeringolo Thatch
Lynn A. Lester, BS, MD