Posts Tagged 'Leigh van den Kieboom'

Getting to Know Dr. Leigh van den Kieboom

VandenkieboomDr. Leigh van den Kieboom is  an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy & Leadership (EDPL). She teaches Elementary and Middle School Mathematics as well as Teaching in the Middle School. All throughout this semester, we’ve been getting to know our faculty a little better by sitting down to see what makes them who they are!


Tell us about yourself!

I am a mathematics teacher educator with twelve years of K-12 teaching experience who enjoys guiding pre-service teachers as they learn how to teach in our preparation program. I’ve worked in several school districts in the Milwaukee area and have been at Marquette University in the College of Education since 2000.

So where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Milwaukee area and completed an undergraduate and master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before finishing a doctoral degree at Marquette University.

Sounds like you’ve had many educational experiences! What is your favorite one?

As a K-12 student, I did not particularly enjoy mathematics. I found the subject challenging. I often asked my K-12 mathematics teachers to explain WHY the procedures I was using to solve problems worked. Most often, I received a repetition of the procedure rather than an explanation of the concept involved in the procedure. This was frustrating for me. While in college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, my views of teaching and learning mathematics changed as I began to study WHY the procedures for problem solving worked. I was fascinated as I revisited the K-12 mathematics scope and sequence with a view toward teaching and learning that included using multiple and hands-on approaches to solving problems. I learned how to use reasoning to explain the thinking involved in the procedures I used to solve problems. I became passionate about sharing what I had learned with others. As a teacher, while most of my colleagues, espoused teaching reading as the favorite part of their practice, I was drawn to teaching and learning mathematics.

Whoa, that’s an amazing change in thinking about math! What drew you to Marquette and the COED?

The focus on social justice drew me to Marquette University and the College of Education. I was particularly drawn to a teacher preparation program that utilized a variety of urban school settings that provide pre-service teachers the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of K-12 students.

We’re glad that the COED was a good fit for you! What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

Revisions to the Marquette University’s common core as well as change to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s teacher licensing has created the opportunity for faculty in the College of Education to reimagine the coursework involved in the teacher preparation program.

Who is your inspiration for your work?

My mom and dad were both public school teachers. They loved their practice and spent years serving the students and parents in the school districts in which they worked. I grew up in their classrooms, first learning about teaching from them! Their passion for teaching inspired me to continue the same journey.

We’ve heard a lot about what you are like as a professor, but what do you do when you are outside of the classroom?

I am an avid sailor. I am part of a family crew (husband Jan; two sons, Pieter and Willem) who race a 38’ sailboat named “Nighthawk” on Lake Michigan. We enjoy weekly course races as well as long-distance races, The Queens Cup (South Shore Yacht Club to Muskegon Yacht Club) and The Chicago-Mackinac Race (Chicago to Mackinac Island). You can find me out on the water most of the summer!

Tell us more about what racing means to you!

Racing on Nighthawk is a beautiful experience that combines time on the water with family. We work as a team in different kinds of weather conditions on Lake Michigan. The most exciting part of the summer racing season is the Chicago-Mackinac race. We join over 300 sailboats in Chicago and sail 333 miles north to Mackinac Island. The race, which usually takes three days, includes weather patterns of every kind, from sunny skies to dark thunderstorms. The crew works 24-7, taking shifts through the night to keep the boat sailing.

Any advice for readers who are interested in sailing?

Marquette University has a sailing club. Interested participants can learn how to sail (on Lake Michigan) with friends from Marquette University!

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our undergraduate and graduate programs by visiting us online!

Personnel Passions Project: Dr. Leigh van den Kieboom

The Personnel Passions Project is a chance for you to get an inside look at the passions and interests of Education faculty and staff at Marquette.

When she’s not educating current and future math teachers about how to best teach their content, Dr. Leigh van den Kieboom may well be found somewhere on Lake Michigan where her heart has been captured by the art of sailing.  Leigh first learned to sail from her husband, Jan, who gave her her first lesson when they first met. They’ve now been married for over 27 years and have continued sailing all the while.

The van den Kiebooms began with a small vessel, the  “Hobie Cat”, and then moved on to the larger monohull.  These days you’ll find Dr. van den Kieboom and her family sailing the lake in a C&C 115 named “Nighthawk.”

Thanks to the encouragement of Leigh’s son Pieter, what began initially as a casual hobby, has recently grown into even more.Beginning last season, the van den Kiebooms began participating in sailboat racing.   In fact, most Wednesday evenings during the sailing season, you’re sure to find the the entire family down at the Milwaukee Yacht Club for their Wednesday night racing series. During the series, boats from the Club complete two race courses about a mile off shore.  In addition, the van den Kiebooms have also competed in the Queen’s Cup Race (Milwaukee to Muskegon, Michigan) for the past two years.

“We’ve learned much more about sailing in the transition from casual sailors to competitive sailors,”  Leigh comments, and then she tells the story of the most challenging and rewarding sail for her to learn how to use: the colorful spinnaker.  Since the spinnaker is the largest sail in the van den Kieboom’s inventory, she tell us, it captures an incredible amount of wind. The danger in “flying a spinnaker” is that if the spinnaker fills with too much air, it can overpower the boat. Therefore, the spinnaker requires lots of careful watching and working and constant “trimming” to keep the boat on track.

But, sailing isn’t all about the work.

“Sailing is a great way to build relationships,” Leigh comments, “When you’re out on the water sailing, you need to learn to depend on and trust each other. There’s no TV, cell phones, or email, so spending a lot of time in fellowships and conversation with others is a big part of sailing.”

The Nighthawk requires a crew of at least 8-10 sailors for racing, which makes it a true team-building activity.  Luckily Dr. van den Kieboom gets to share the task with her loved ones. Her husband “drives” the boat while her son Pieter works the bow and her other son Willem trims the sails.  Leigh herself has taken on the role of “squirrel” due to her ability to pack the sails below the deck without getting seasick.

Dr. van den Kieboom also enjoys the simple pleasures involved with sailing.

“Sailing also puts you in touch with the beauty of nature – the wind and the ever changing waters of Lake Michigan,”  Leigh muses, “It engages your senses in different way as you learn to love the sound of the wind and the water, the sight of a sunrise, sunset, the fireworks above the Milwaukee skyline on the 4th of July, or a night sky full of stars.


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