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Feb. 18, 2003

Lesho, Caroline

by Alex Mazerov, Page Editor
Name: Caroline Lesho
Department: Math
Education: BS in Chemistry – DeSales University
Masters in Education – Arcadia University
Came to Blair in: 2003
Previous Jobs: Teacher: North Penn High School – Lansdale, PA, Bethel High School – Spanaway, WA, Heidelberg American High School – Heidelberg, Germany, medical secretary
Hobbies: reading, mountain climbing

Caroline Lesho, an experienced teacher in her first year at Blair, is an accomplished mountain climber, martial arts enthusiast, and globe-trekker extraordinaire.

In October of 1998, Lesho and her husband summited Africa's tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet), located in Tanzania. Preparing for this climb, and in particular the high elevation, was not an easy task. "There's not a lot of opportunity to train for the high altitude," Lesho says. To prepare, Lesho ran three times a week and was a frequent visitor of a local gym. "We upped the amount [of training] that we did to really get ready," she recalls.

Lesho did, however, have previous climbing experience, though not at the extreme elevation of Kilimanjaro. "We went to the Alps a lot and did a lot of hiking at 14,000 feet; but 19,000 feet is a lot different than 14,000 feet," she says. "You can't really prepare for the altitude problems now matter how good a shape you're in."

Climbing is fairly expensive, Lesho says. "You can go as cheap as you want, but then it's a safety issue." But Lesho believes that the benefits of the experience far outweigh the costs. "It does get expensive [to climb]," she says, "but it's absolutely worthwhile because [at the end] you're almost a totally changed person."

Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro was especially fulfilling for Lesho. "I'm afraid of heights," she says, "so it was something special for me to realize that I could overcome that fear and actually be on the top."

After a strenuous four-and-a-half day ascent to the summit, Lesho spent only thirty minutes at the top. At the summit, "We took a lot of pictures of me looking really green," Lesho remembers, laughing.

Lesho has conquered several other challenging peaks in her life, including Mount Rainier in Washington, and the Breithorn, Rothorn, and Riffelhorn in the Swiss Alps, some of which involved technical climbing"ascending rock or ice faces on hands and feet, employing special equipment that may include thick rubber-soled boots or other special shoes, rope, and steel spikes, known as pitons, that are driven into the rock as an aid to climbing. Lesho has a unique approach to completing the technical parts of her climb. "Whenever I'm doing that, I never look out," she says. "I'm always thinking, 'Well, I'm only five feet four inches off the ground.'"

"My happiest summit was the Breithorne in Switzerland," Lesho says. "The top of that mountain was a knife's edge…There are sheer 700 foot drops on either side."

Besides mountain climbing, Lesho is also an avid martial artist. She earned a purple belt in 2001, and is proud of her ability to break a wooden board with her fist. Unfortunately, Lesho has reached somewhat of a glass ceiling in her martial arts "career'" as she is now sidelined due to sore knees.

The relatively-less-adventurous portion of Lesho's life began in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised. As a child, Lesho considered becoming a veterinarian, but later put that career idea on the back burner. "When it came to the reality of working on animals, it was a little bit too much to stomach," she says, smiling.

After earning a bachelor's degree at DeSales University in Allentown and a master's degree at Arcadia University, Lesho married and moved to Philadelphia, where she taught Chemistry and General Science, at a high school even larger than Blair, for four years.

Since her spouse is a soldier in the army, Lesho then moved to Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska where she worked as a medical secretary. Lesho and her husband then relocated to Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, where Lesho taught chemistry and physics. After three years in Tacoma, Lesho moved to a military base in Heidelberg, Germany. In Heidelberg, Lesho taught at Heidelberg American High, a U.S. Department of Defense school. At Heidelberg American, the pupils were children of soldiers and civilian employees at the military base, creating a uniquely diverse student body.

Living in Germany created many exciting travel opportunities for Lesho and her husband. "You can do neat things," she says. Two years ago, for example, Lesho spent Halloween in Transylvania. During her time in Germany, Lesho traveled to nearly every European country.

After six years in Germany, Lesho moved to Silver Spring and began working at Blair, where she "felt instantly welcome." At Blair, Lesho teaches Algebra 1 to mostly ninth-grade students.

Although relocating so often has been tough on her, Lesho has also found it to be beneficial. "It's very difficult to move every three years," Lesho says. "[You have to] start again, start finding new jobs, find a new house, and make new friends. But it's been hugely rewarding."

For now, Lesho is content at Blair, doing what she loves best: teaching. "The best part of being a teacher is interacting with the kids," Lesho says. "And I really enjoy math and science, so it's something I can do every day."



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