Changing One’s Vision Impacts Destiny

West G Grad Joins the Ranks of Published Authors


Asher Leichtman Helps Dad Find His Book in Chagrin Falls

ATTENTION: All you students out there who are struggling to maintain academics and a sense of self-worth…here’s a success story that will make you believe in hard work and dedication. 

Dr. Kevin Leichtman (pronounced LIGHT-men) is a Class of 2002 West Geauga High School graduate who wrestled and played soccer as a student here. Ironically, Dr. Leichtman was a student in (current Whirlwind advisor and former head wrestling coach) Mr. Joe Marino’s English class; he wrestled for Coach Marino as well. “I was not Coach Marino’s best English student by a mile,” Dr. Leichtman offered. “I was more of a class clown. I probably made his teaching days more stressful than anything else.” Times have changed.

Dr. Leichtman went on to attend Kent State University but struggled to maintain an adequate GPA. He tried to improve after transferring to Ohio State, but, unfortunately, it took some time and a few failed courses for him to adjust the situation. “I figured I wasn’t smart enough for college or good enough to be enrolled and almost gave up.” Yet he persevered and applied to Wright State University in Dayton. Here, Leichtman turned things around. “I made positive changes in my life and redefined how I viewed myself as a student. I brought my GPA up from a 1.7 to a 3.5 and graduated with a degree in English.” His determination continued and Leichtman received his Masters degree and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. 

While living in Florida, Leichtman taught junior high and high school English, as well as ESOL. (English as a 2nd language). Leichtman became a wrestling coach while teaching English, too. “Kevin and I kept in decent touch over the years,” said Mr. Marino. “It was ironic that he was in my class and wrestled for us at West G. and then ended up teaching English and coaching wrestling in Broward County, literally, 5 miles from where I taught and coached in Florida in the 90’s. We always laughed about that.” 

Dr. Leichtman understood the nature of students feeling inferior and the inability to academically succeed. “Like me, many of them had been struggling in high school. They felt [as if] they didn’t belong and couldn’t conform to the type of student their teachers and parents wanted them to be.” Dr. Leichtman’s personal value in his profession emerged and he offers a true inspiration. “I wanted to create a space where their voices had value. I wanted to be able to show their stories, so students could see there is more than one path to success. Their experiences share a common theme of being underestimated and misunderstood because their amazing strengths and qualities were not recognized or respected by the adults and peers in their lives.” 

Dr. Leichtman partnered with EduMatch Publishing to create The Perfect Ten: Ten Students, Ten Mindsets, One New Definition of Perfection. The book explores personal accounts of Dr. Leichtman’s students and dealing with hardships during their schooling. The best part about EduMatch Publishing is its founding members: teachers who exclusively produce the work of students and other teachers. Dr. Leichtman currently has another book underway, focusing on a subject that, according to Leichtman, is not talked about enough: teacher burnout.

Dr. Leichtman says that his days in his high school classrooms, “…really [fit] the theme of my book.” He is thankful that Mr. Marino (and many other teachers at West G.) strived to encourage and motivate him to exert the effort. “Once I began to really believe in myself and I decided to test who I could really be, I had already left high school. It is so rewarding to be able to come back to my coach and show him that the lessons paid off, even if it took me years to allow those messages to sink in.” 

Today Dr. Leichtman is married with two sons, residing in his former hometown of Chesterland. Dr. Leichtman and his wife (Dr. Anala Leichtman) operate, a corporation where they produce professional development and speaking engagements, as well as aligned curriculum and references for educational institutions. He also does work for his family’s business, a company that, “…owns and operates manufactured home communities.” 

Leichtman said his 11th grade English class experience proved valuable, and, like English class, his time in wrestling also produced important lessons. “I can remember matches that I lost where I wrestled my best, and [Coach Marino] would give me praise and encouragement like crazy. I also remember matches where I won but wrestled terribly and he would let me have it. He [told us] that you couldn’t always control the results, but you could always control your effort. Lessons like those have been crucial for me in my whole life, on and off the mat!” Coach Marino mentioned, “What Kev will not tell you is that he became really sick as a 9th grader and missed virtually the entire season. He came back in 10th grade, literally, a whole year behind everyone else due to no practice. He stuck with it, and qualified to districts but still had a losing record as a junior. His senior year he totally turned it around. He was a CVC league champion at 130 pounds and placed at the district tournament, just missing state by one match. That did not happen by luck or being “accidentally” successful; there is no such thing. He worked for it.” 

Dr. Leichtman’s uplifting and motivating journey can be summed up in a matter of sentences: “In a 5 year span, I went from a college fail out to enrollment in graduate school. In another 5 year span, I went from single with no career to married with a wonderful teaching career and a baby on the way!” If anyone can take away the most important lesson of Dr. Leichtman’s life, it would be when he said, “I have no idea what will happen in the next 5 to 10 years, but I definitely know that I should never count myself out. By applying myself every day and pursuing my passions with excellence, I could be in a completely different position in 5 years. All I hope is that I’m proud of the energy and effort I put into creating the life I hope for.”

If anyone wants to buy the book, in addition to Fireside Books in Chagrin Falls, it can be found on Amazon: or at Barnes and Noble online.