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Check Out Panela Leung’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Panela Leung.

Hi Panela, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I am the Executive Director and founder of Generation Maker Lab and World Builders Academy. Nine years ago, I became a parent while working as a scenic designer creating interactive, educational, and entertainment experiences. In my career, I spent time working in world-class exhibits, theme parks, stage and screen projects and sometimes found myself in some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. My time in these places showed me that a person’s maximum potential came from having a supportive academic environment and facilitated self-initiated education.

Beginning as an in-home operation six years ago, I worked to fulfill my lifelong dream of having a school. I would say the idea for World Builders Academy began to take shape when I was eight years old and I discovered that there were children who didn’t have a home, educational resources, or family support. As a young adult watching promising ivy league college students walking to class, I asked myself, “What set these kids apart?” I developed the belief that quality education started from a person’s earliest experiences.

Our school serves families who were looking for an alternative to traditional education. This started in 2016 with me serving one family at my kitchen table. In 2018, Generation Maker Lab established its first commercial location in Kansas City, and we are getting ready to grow again into our new location in Parkville, Missouri, transitioning into World Builders Academy in the summer of 2021.

World Builders Academy offers unique educational experiences for students inspired by the innovative educational philosophies that support an individual’s natural progression, personal discovery, and academic success. Students learn in an interactive project-based environment. Our curriculum is focused on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. We do not see these subjects as separate but integrated with each other. We provide ample opportunities for deep learning, even from an early age. Students are encouraged to document their ideas and see them brought to life.

We teach core subjects presented in nontraditional ways. We do not solely rely on worksheets and textbooks. We go outdoors; we explore. We learn about effective team building and what it means being part of the larger community. As we continue to grow, we believe in teaching young people confidence, tenacity, and self excellence. We strive to empower them to make meaningful and positive changes to their community as adults.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Going out on your own is always a scary prospect. This idea was not a franchise or already rolling gig. I like to tell people this was a brain baby of mine built from my experiences and what I hope for my own children. There is nothing more scary, rocky, and full of struggle than to build something from the raw resource of your intuition, your experiences, and dreams. It takes guts, resilience, forgiveness for yourself and the mistakes you will make along the way. The roughness I experience in my journey is internal. After all that, you have to start the hard work of sharing your vision and hoping others will see it with you.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a teacher. I own and run a private school called World Builders Academy. I think what sets me apart from many is my tenacity, work ethic, and my belief that the world is filled with wonderful experiences. I love to learn and more than that, I love to share knowledge. I feel what makes me unique is my diversity of experiences as a designer, technologist, parent, and entrepreneur. I look for the universality in all things. How does a cooking egg relate to understanding particle physics? How does building community with others relate to understanding more about ourselves? I am most proud of my work when I see the moment of understanding, sometimes called the Ah-ha moment, in the students I teach. In 2019, I was awarded The STEMy award, presented by Central Exchange of Kansas City, Missouri. This award is given to women who are making strides in STEM fields. Along with the incredible honor of being in the company of such amazing women in Science and Technology, I get to boost the only preschool in the Northland to have been awarded a STEM award for our program!

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
It is often quoted that there is no such thing as luck, that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. As a self-professed workaholic, I would like this to be true all of the time. The truth is, luck has played a role in my life. This usually took shape as the many mentors and caring teachers I’ve had in my life. People such as John Ezell, my professor of scenic design at UMKC, Dave Ralston, my orchestra director at William Chrisman High School, my coaches during Presidential Classroom, Professor Pat Immel at Northwest University, they and many others offered their kindness, their time, and tough love when it was warranted. A teacher, a boss, a friend that goes beyond what was required of them for another person is the luckiest thing I’ve experienced.


  • STEM Preschool – staring at $300
  • STEM Pre k – $700 – $900 a month
  • Day School K-12 – $995 a month
  • Respectful Infant care – starting at $65

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