Damon Van Leeuwen
University of California-Santa Cruz – B.A.
English teacher Damon Van Leeuwen said he was drawn to work at Windward because of the School’s origin. “The values that Shirley Windward instilled in the School, the sacrifice she made to launch the School, and the love and care she showed the students and fellow faculty is what made me love working here,” he says.
Damon says these founding values are still flourishing on campus after all those years, which makes it a welcome place to come every day, as he has since 1997.
“The ethos of the School has remained the same,” Damon says. “It is place of kindness, warmth, generosity, collegiality, and professionalism. People help each other, ask about each other’s lives, laugh. It is truly a great place to be an educator.”
Damon says the biggest change he’s noticed over the years is the dramatic improvement in the School’s facilities. “When I first came here, there was no Center for Teaching and Learning, Pavilion, or 900 building or 200 building,” he says. “My current office was home plate for the softball field.”
The dynamism of the physical campus is mirrored by the fresh energy and perspectives that the students bring to the classroom.
“The class is important, but it is the minds and hearts of the students that keep me engaged year after year,” Damon says. “It may be my 12th time teaching “The Great Gatsby,” but it is their first time reading it!”