After eight years of serving the United States Marine Corps, Leslie Kanuch decided it was time for a new adventure. She found her way to a faculty position at Oakcrest, where she currently teaches Physics, Honors Physics, Conceptual Physics, and AP Computer Science.
Mrs. Kanuch graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2010 with a B.S. in Physics, a B.S. in English, and a minor in Russian language and literature. From the Academy, she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt) in the United States Marine Corps and went on to do six months of The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico. After being trained as a Signals Intelligence Officer and assigned to Camp Lejeune, NC, Mrs. Kanuch deployed to Afghanistan twice. She later spent time serving in Germany, Bahrain, and Iraq. During that time, Mrs. Kanuch took night classes at the National Intelligence University and completed a master’s thesis comparing Iran’s proxy strategy in Iraq to that of Lebanon. Eventually, Mrs. Kanuch decided to say goodbye to the military in order to pursue her academic interests.
She learned about Oakcrest by happy chance through Fr. Michael Fagan, who was an alum of The Heights. He invited Mrs. Kanuch and her now husband to Mass at The Heights, and Mrs. Kanuch fell in love with the community. She asked if there was an all-girls equivalent, and was told about Oakcrest. “I went to an all-girls Catholic high school myself and always wanted to support the mission of cultivating beauty, confidence, and holiness in young women,” Mrs. Kanuch says. She applied for a teaching position and began at Oakcrest in August of 2018.
Mrs. Kanuch believes deeply in Oakcrest’s mission of forming the whole person and loves how the school offers young women a path worth following in life, one that points towards goodness, beauty, and truth. “Even as a physics teacher, I see my vocation here as encompassing more than conveying information and generating grade reports,” she says. “I view physics as an opportunity to discover the awesome beauty and order of God’s creation, as a discipline aimed at developing logical thinking, and as a challenge that teaches grit and patient endurance.”
Besides teaching multiple classes, Mrs. Kanuch has also served as a Science Olympiad coach. In 2019, she was part of the team that brought Oakies to the Virginia state tournament for the first time ever. “I am consistently amazed by what our girls accomplish at Science Olympiad,” she says. “They are presented with complex scenarios that require them to prototype designs and troubleshoot systematic or random errors. They learn to be “comfortable being uncomfortable” (a phrase I heard all the time in the Marine Corps but perfectly suits the study of science as well) – and they don’t quit. They keep working on their solutions until they come as close as possible to a robust and reliable one.”
Mrs. Kanuch has a wide variety of interests that she pursues outside of teaching. She loves studying languages, running, hiking, playing piano, and puzzles—she and her husband enjoy the Wall Street Journalcrossword puzzle every night over dinner. When asked what her favorite thing about working at Oakcrest is, she responds, “The people make the mission. The faculty and staff here are kind, generous, selfless, hard-working, and honest. The girls are genuinely delightful – they are impressive in so many ways, not merely for their effusive and diverse talents but who they are and who they are becoming.”