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Officer Leston Accepts Educator of the Year Award

September 08, 2020

Watch: Officer Manuel Leston accepts the Staff Educator of the Year award during the Educators' Forum online meeting. 


Earlier this year, Community Outreach Officer Manuel Leston was named MD Anderson's Staff Educator of the Year. After delays due to the impact of COVID-19, the event to present the award to Officer Leston took place on Sept. 1 at the MD Anderson’s Educators’ Forum online meeting.

The Staff Educator Awards Committee Chair Kelly LaFrenz introduced Officer Leston at the virtual meeting where he accepted the award and spoke about his experience educating members of the community on a number of safety topics. 

At the start of his comments, Officer Leston recollected on a video clip he once viewed about a surprise lightning strike that seemingly came out of the clear blue sky in western Florida. Although rare, lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from nearby rainfall. Similarly, he said, his presentations aim to prepare attendees for situations that may seem unlikely or unconscionable.

"It's important to be aware so we can prepare for things that seemingly occur out of nowhere," Leston said. He likes to rhyme, he jested in keeping with the sometimes playful techniques he employs in his presentations. The lightning strike video story is a metaphor, he said, and it reminds him of UT Police's shared purpose of prevention, preparedness, and protection. 

The message resonated with Bob Tillman, MD Anderson Educators' Forum representative and director of education over academic development. "What you were speaking about reminded me that the purpose of education is to be able to know when to use it and that you can use it!" Tillman closed out the awards portion of the meeting thanking Officer Leston for "the work you do to educate us on being safe and creating safer spaces for us all." 

Following his recognition, Officer Leston was invited to moderate one of the breakout sessions that are part of the regular meeting. The breakout session centered on the joys and challenges facing educators in today's world of virtual classrooms with a robust discussion on engaging students. 

In addition to the presentation of Leston as the Staff Educator of the Year, organizers also presented the Faculty Educator of the Year award to Mahsa Dehghanpour, associate professor with the School of Health Professions.

You can read more about Leston's recent award recognitions

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