The pride of Sherry Leake: Ava Rose

Lucas Counts, Editorial Board Member

During her 26 years as a math teacher at Liberty, Sherry Leake’s name has been synonymous with trigonometry functions, linear equations, and exponential form. Outside of math, what else is she known for? 

Leake can frequently be found talking about one thing: her riding horse, Ava Rose. 

Leake’s love of horses first manifested when she was a little girl growing up in Jacksonville, Florida.

“When I was a child, my best friend went to a Catholic church and knew a fellow church member who had horses,” Leake said. “We would frequent his orange grove together, picking and eating the fruit while we petted his two horses. That’s where my passion for spending time with horses began.”

When Leake was a kid, her mom was unwilling to buy her a horse, but Leake was undeterred from reaching for her horse-ownership dreams.

“When I was in eighth grade, I bought my first horse with money I saved from babysitting and cutting grass. I then bought my second horse as a high schooler,” Leake said.

After moving to the greater Seattle area for college and planting her professional roots in the Pacific Northwest, Leake rented horses for decades. Then, six years ago, she finally purchased her beloved Ava Rose, a former race horse that now serves as Leake’s personal riding horse. Leake’s animal companion not only brings her comfort and joy, but also insight and lessons that are applied to her teaching.

“My horse has taught me how to have patience in spite of setbacks,” Leake said. “When she was brand new to me, she didn’t know how to do very many things so I had to try lots of different methods to get her to respond. I use the same strategy when I’m trying to help a struggling student.”

References to Ava Rose are commonplace during Leake’s algebra and calculus lectures.

“During remote learning, I started including clips at the end of my lecture videos of Ava Rose eating a carrot or enjoying some grass,” Leake said. “I would talk about how Ava has to work by letting me ride her before getting her food, similar to how students have to work hard before earning a strong grade.

Leake’s passion for horse riding is made evident when examining her classroom walls which are adorned with pictures of Ava Rose and horses she used to rent. 

“Everybody has something that brings energy to them and makes them feel good,” Leake said. “Whatever it is, regardless of whether or not others agree with it or not, you’ve got to go for it and be true to yourself.”