Education Department Honors Dr. Gene F. Leonard with "Little Free Library"

by Public Relations | May 5, 2015

May 5, 2015

Dr. Veronica I. Ent, associate professor and chair of the Saint Vincent College education department, announced that a "Little Red Schoolhouse Free Library" a take-a-book, leave-a-book receptacle located in the department, will honor educator and colleague Dr. Gene Leonard.

"Little free libraries are specialized locations with boxes that are mapped online to offer communities a repository for exchanging good reads," Ent explained. "Children, young adults, and adults all will enjoy the opportunity to select their next book by leaving one for someone else."

Todd Bol of Wisconsin first originated the idea in 2009 following the mission of Andrew Carnegie's free public libraries. Bol built a wood schoolhouse box in honor of his mother, a former schoolteacher who loved reading. He made a sign that said free books and from that day forward the innovative idea of book sharing through little libraries took hold across the world.

Today, there are more than 20,000 little free libraries. The nearest library can be found at Twin Lakes Park, 10 miles from Saint Vincent, and others are located as far away as Mongolia. The idea has led many people to the joy of reading and neighborhood communities to share resources regardless of economic status. The libraries are unique to the social fabric in both rural and urban settings.

Leonard has been a part of the Saint Vincent education department since his retirement from the Greater Latrobe School district where he served as teacher and principal for more than 30 years. Leonard joined Saint Vincent College providing an inquiry-based science curriculum to local schools through the ScienceWise program. While serving as the director of this program and providing schools with affordable supplies and inquiry lesson kits, Leonard provided science inquiry training for faculty, teachers and college students. His exhibited a passion for quality science education. After retiring as the ScienceWise director, he became an adjunct lecturer for the education department in student teacher supervision. "Dr. Leonard's methods in mentoring and leadership led college students one-by-one through successful student teaching," Ent commented. "Students often remarked on Leonard's careful mentorship and positive approach toward helping them succeed. He served as a supervisor model for the department and his techniques and approaches are still in use today."

"To honor Dr. Leonard with the little free library was a unanimous idea by the department," Ent concluded. "He was an outstanding educator and leader with the personal belief that everyone can succeed. The outreach he provided for us will now be provided to others through the little library. Dr. Leonard is a partner whom we admire. He will always remain a part of the Saint Vincent education program and team."

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Photo A: Saint Vincent College education department students and faculty announced the tribute to Dr. Gene Leonard at their end-of-the-year picnic.
Photo B: The miniature schoolhouse that will serve as a little free library in the Saint Vincent College education department.

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PR2015-166