All ACE Educators have schools and teachers that are our favorite. We’ve been visiting them for years and we have friendly, even personal relationships with the teachers at those schools.
This is how it is for me with Leigh Metcalfe at Reed High School in Sparks, NV. I made my first visit to Reed to deliver the ACE Assembly there in 2009 and have been going back ever since. Over the last five years, my professional relationship with Leigh has grown into one of friendship and mutual admiration. I’ve watched her develop the Reed High Eco Warriors into one of the top ACE Action Teams in the country. At the same time, she’s been instrumental in developing the club’s members into leaders. Past Eco Warrior president Celeste Tinajero now has a Youth People For Fellowship and current Eco Warrior president Alicia Wong is an ACE Action Fellow.
So when I heard about the Reno 20 Under 40 Award for the top twenty professionals in the Reno-Sparks area under the age of forty, I knew I had to nominate Leigh. Her numerous accomplishments over the years with the Eco Warriors made her a shoe-in. Reed’s green bathrooms, water-bottle refilling station, new recycling bins and Idle Free zone are some of the highlights of the team’s accomplishments.
So, a few months ago, when I learned that despite being one of over 120 applicants, Leigh had been chosen as one of Reno’s 20 Under 40, I was elated but by no means surprised. She’d more than earned it.
I was honored to have Leigh invite me to attend the awards dinner, along with two of her top Eco Warrior students, Celeste Tinajero and Alicia Wong. The event was held at the Peppermill Casino in Reno (Everything in Reno happens at casinos.) and many of Reno’s top brass were there, including newly-elected mayor, Hillary Schieve, herself a Reno 20 Under 40 alumna from 2008. When it came Leigh’s turn for her acceptance speech, she spoke open-heartedly about what it meant to her as a teacher to see her students get “lost in their minds” and discover insights and talents they didn’t know they had. Celeste, Alicia and I clapped wildly, took tons of pictures and got tears in our eyes.
From me and everyone at ACE, congratulations, Leigh, on your Reno 20 Under 40 Award and here’s looking to Reno’s rising stars, Celeste and Alicia -- I hope to attend your 20 Under 40 awards dinners some day down the line.