Tesa Leon 

Tesa Leon is in the doctoral program in Education Leadership for Change. Her research will focus on developing an adult foundational numeracy skills curriculum that is both trauma informed and adaptable to learners’ culture and goals. 

Tesa received her BS from the University of Kentucky in Mathematics; her MS from the University of Kentucky in Statistics; her MA from George Washington University in Counseling; and her Graduate Certificate from the University of the District of Columbia in Adult Education. 

Tesa has over 25 years in education, teaching at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels, she has taught in rural, suburban and urban communities. She spent two years teaching statistics at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. Throughout her teaching career, Tesa was told she ‘couldn’t teach math that way’. Yet, she continued to find methods and venues where she could bring mathematics education to the real world. Helping students say, “This is where I will use this.” 

Numeracy, using numbers and number operations in social practice, is correlated with wages, incarceration, socio-economic status, civic engagement and other social functions. Tesa’s work rises from a passionate belief in equity through education that is relevant to the person. An obstacle to many adults’ educational ambitions is insufficient math skills. Tesa believes that by changing how math is taught, more students can be successful at achieving their personal goals. Her doctoral research project hopes to prove that different methods of teaching can improve these outcomes. 

As a member of the Open-Door Collective’s Evidence-Based Adult Education System Research Taskforce, she advocates for numeracy education as part of the literacy agenda. She is also collaborating with Dr. Nadine Braunstein of California State University, Sacramento to create a series of videos on Numeracy in Nutrition. They lead a workshop, Interdisciplinary collaboration to integrate numeracy skills and foundational teacher training into non-teacher training coursework, based on their work Adults Learning Mathematics 29 in Barcelona in July, 2022.