Gary LeBeau - Head Teacher (1973-1980)
Posted on 02/21/2024
Gary LeBeau

Mr. LeBeau is lauded as the founder of Synergy Alternative Program. Mr. LeBeau began his journey in East Hartford having served as an educator in Western Massachusetts. He entered the district in 1973 with the goal of offering a program that, at the time, was very different than what was offered at what was then, two high schools: one that prioritized staff-student connectedness as well as offered experiential learning opportunities. He sought to build a program that truly embodied the definition of Synergy where ““the cooperation of two or more agents produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

At its inception, Synergy was housed out of portable units behind what is now East Hartford High School. Staff included three certified teachers to support approximately thirty-five students. The building eventually grew to four staff and fifty students by the year’s end as the district and its students were in need of alternative programming.

LeBeau was a firm believer in John Dewey’s methodology which emphasized the importance of experiential learning or “learning by doing”.  He oversaw the implementation of Laboratory Action Work Models (LAWMs) where students experience coordinating school, district, and community wide events. Students facilitated food, film, and auto mechanic cooperatives throughout the town where students prepared for the workforce. Under Mr. LeBeau’s leadership, Team Synergy travelled cross-country providing students with lessons regarding navigation, team and relationship building as students worked together to make their way across various states.

Since serving as Synergy’s Head Teacher, Mr. LeBeau taught social studies at East Hartford High School for an additional 17 years. His commitment to the town of East Hartford continued as he represented East Hartford as State Representative 1990-1996 and eventually it’s State Senator between 1997-2015. Today’s Mr. LeBeau’s mission rings true where students not only have an opportunity to seek out their diplomas in a welcoming and supportive environment but also gain work readiness training and experience along the way.