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Comedian inspires teachers with humor

Teaching can be a serious business.

But it doesn’t always have to be.

Teachers and staff at Buckingham County Public Schools (BCPS) had the chance to laugh, reflect and be inspired to influence during the division’s convocation held July 31.

Comedian and motivational speaker Brett Leake sent the BCPS staff in the Buckingham County High School auditorium into laughing fits with jokes that were especially appreciated as they discussed teaching.

Leake joked about the sometimes confusing terminology in math, English and science inside and outside the classroom.

During one joke, he questioned why the abbreviation for pounds is “lbs.”

“These letters aren’t even in the word,” Leake said.

Leake, who has made several appearances on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and was one of the first with a physical disability to make an appearance, spoke about the impact of his music director on his life, as a degenerative muscle disease left him afraid and in much need of the humor and help his teacher offered, including having him play a bassoon in the band instead of a clarinet.

“He didn’t know how badly I could use a ‘Yes’ that day,” Leake said. “The smallest ‘Yes,’ around which other ‘Yeses’ could slowly consolidate, forming a new whole, forging a new path, helping me find a new way to love my life.”

He noted the importance of teachers’ influence as students set out into the world.

“If they are the critical thinkers that we want them to be, they will at some point ask this question: ‘What difference do I make, and do I matter?’” Leake said, noting that some students may not believe they do. He said humor may be a solution to this question.

“Humor not only lets us become clearer thinkers or emotionally competent, it helps others,” Leake said. “I know that humor was once used to help me.”

Leake, who resides in Central Virginia, was contacted by the school division to speak during convocation.

More than 20 new staff members, the majority being teachers, prepared for the upcoming school year, which began Aug. 3.

Following Leake’s keynote Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead had Leake pick out the winning name for a raffle where a middle school teacher won $100.

“We are honored to have you with us today,” Snead said. He later told the audience, “We’re going to have the best year we’ve ever had.”

Leake said he read about the deaths of Tori Perez and Jaiden Bartee in March and of Michaela and Tyauna Woodson in April. He noted it had been a difficult year for the staff in the division and surrounding counties, and he said he hoped his keynote not only made the staff feel better, but also showed them the impact their work can have on the young people they teach.

“We want to celebrate today,” Leake said.

To learn more about Leake, visit www.brettleake.com.

This article was corrected from its original version.