Meet January #MICharter Hero: Jeff Leib from Hanley International Academy

Kyra Biscarner
Jan 3, 2024 1:03:06 PM

For Jeff Leib, the Board President at Hanley International Academy in Hamtramck, becoming a school board member came as a little bit of a surprise. Jeff said he has a great team that makes it worth it. 

I’ve been the President of the school board since day one and that was in 2005 and I keep trying to get out of it but they keep electing me President,” Leib said with a laugh.  

I have a wonderful board and we have a wonderful school and a wonderful educational service provider and a Superintendent who is just on top of everything.”


One of the many things Jeff has done as Board President is to create a skill trades club for students to participate in after school. Jeff’s nomination said this is because of his exceptional leadership and always thinking of the best for the students at Hanley. 

Mr. Leib is always looking toward the future of education and for the best interests of students as well as the community. He recently proposed an idea to start a skilled trades club at his school to give kids more exposure to trades well before they hit high school. He saw this as a way to connect kids to learning the love, but also show them more paths to successful careers, especially if they wanted to own their own businesses. He also found that it could be a way to help the community address the need for more skilled trade workers. The club launched this school year and has had immediate success. The school is preparing to expand the club to accommodate the rapidly growing waitlist of students who want to try it.

For Jeff, the skilled trades club started after a conversation with his grandchildren. Jeff said he realized how necessary these skilled trades are for students. 

One day I asked one of my grandkids to bring me an adjustable wrench and he had no clue what it was at 16 or 17 years old. I thought, ‘when I was in school we had shop and they don’t have shop anymore’. I talked to a friend of mine and he developed this shop program at an elementary school in the West Bloomfield School District. I asked him to come down and talk to our school board about the introduction of some sort of shop program for our kids after school. We adopted it immediately and he came in and now has 40 kids he teaches and you can’t believe the things he teaches them.” 

What are some of these skills students are taught in the skilled trades club? Leib said there is a variety. 

They learn how to find studs in walls, they learn how to remove a nail with a hammer, they learn the difference between a Phillips head screwdriver and a flathead screwdriver, how to cut things, how to sew a button and it is amazing. It has been very well received and kids are excited to be in the program and I am thrilled with it.”

For Jeff, seeing these students succeed has been a highlight. Jeff said 40-50 percent of the students who have graduated from Hanley so far have been there since the beginning.

I just enjoy being part of such an amazing school. It’s been a wonderful relationship. We’ve assembled a board that mirrors the demographics of the area. It’s a wonderful school and everyone gets along so well. The kids grew up with each other, knowing each other since Kindergarten. It’s nice to see kids in harmony with each other.” 

Hanley International Academy is a K-8 public charter school in Hamtramck. Hanley is managed by The Romine Group and authorized by Grand Valley State University. 

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