Rabun Gap welcomed Ms. Le’Aqua Shoates to the Middle School faculty this year as the new Middle School Dean of Students.
Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Ms. Shoates most recently worked at an independent school in Las Vegas, Nevada where she taught fourth and sixth grade. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College, a Master of Education in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment from Strayer University, and is currently working on a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University. She has been in education for 18 years teaching in lower, middle and high schools. Ms. Shoates has three children - an adult daughter who is a preschool teacher and two teenage sons.
What made you choose to work at Rabun Gap?
Rabun Gap presented itself as a place where all are welcomed. I felt like many of my values and goals were right in line with the schools’. I saw Rabun Gap as a place I could plant myself, support the school mission and continue to grow both personally and professionally.
Why did you decide to become an educator?
My family always said that I was born a teacher because I was quick to teach others everything I learned. But I never wanted to be a teacher because I never wanted to be restricted on what I could teach, plus teachers were not cool people when I was a kid. Once I decided that homeschooling would be the best option for my family when my daughter was denied access to Kindergarten due to her late birthday, I embraced the idea. Soon others began requesting me to provide those opportunities to their children. Like my childhood idol, Marva Collins, I began to see the difference I was making in children’s lives. It was then I realized that God had given me a gift. I take what I do very seriously because I understand that the imprint I make on their lives is permanent.
What is your philosophy toward education?
I believe that school should be a place where all students feel welcomed, safe and loved. These elements allow students to relax which opens up their hearts and minds to learning. Once this happens, it is the teachers’ job to provide students with equitable access to knowledge and resources, and guidance on how to properly use it all.
What were you like in middle school?
I was very much the same person I am now. I was very active in lots of activities - band, student government, and managing the track team. I was very social - often getting into trouble for talking too much. Little did my teachers know that this gift of gab would turn out to be a key to my success. I was really smart and loved learning new things. I enjoyed doing creative things like writing stories and drawing. I spent my summers teaching the neighborhood kids dances and we would hold recitals for their parents in my driveway. In middle school, I already knew that I wanted to do something that could help people and I guess I was always a teacher.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
I enjoy traveling, shopping and spending time with my family.
What makes Rabun Gap special?
Rabun Gap is special because of its mission to be a place where children from all over the world no matter their cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds can come to live and learn together.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I am a foodie. When I travel I like to go to new and interesting restaurants.
What do you like about working with middle schoolers?
Middle schoolers are at a special time in their lives. They are discovering themselves and the world and asking lots of questions. They are old enough to engage in meaningful conversations and be change-makers in the world, yet still young enough to engage in play and creativity. I love being there to watch that transformation happen and play such an essential role in helping to mold them.