Katy ISD’s Board of Trustees approved naming the district's newest elementary school after Olga Leonard. The new school is currently being built in the northwest quadrant of the district in the Morton Creek Ranch subdivision and should be ready for students in August.
Leonard is known for her accomplishments as an elementary, junior high, high school classroom teacher, instructional specialist and as an elementary campus administrator at Katy ISD.
Leonard came to the district in 1985 as a first-grade teacher at Bear Creek Elementary, followed by stints at West Memorial Elementary and Hutsell Elementary.
In 1987, Leonard began collaborating with the district as a curriculum writer and teacher trainer, while providing bilingual instruction to students at Sundown Elementary where she was honored as Teacher of the Year in 1989.
“I was the third-grade bilingual teacher, certainly blessed with the honor of representing Sundown Elementary,” Leonard said. “Being nominated by my colleagues is a very special honor. There are other people working just as hard as I was, just as worthy as I was.”
Following her years in the elementary setting, Leonard began teaching Spanish at West Memorial Junior High and McDonald Junior High. She earned her teaching certification for secondary Spanish.
“When I taught in junior high and high school, I was teaching Spanish, but not to just Spanish speakers,” Leonard said.
She served as a member of the Texas Collaborative Transition Project Committee. During this time, Leonard delivered multiple professional development sessions at the state and national level, even winning “Best in State.”
“We had the honor of being selected as best in show for our Texas organization and were invited to present at the national level,” Leonard said. “I think that gave me the buzz to do a little bit more teacher training, affect change and improve instruction at the administrative level.”
In 2001, she helped open Schmalz Elementary as an assistant principal, where she served until 2003. The following year, she assisted in the opening of Kilpatrick Elementary as an assistant principal.
Besides her long list of educational accomplishments and leadership, she is also remembered for her painting; she painted murals on the walls of two different schools.
“When I was an assistant principal at Schmalz Elementary, my principal knew I had painted a little, dabbled, not necessary an artist by any means, kind of just as a hobby,” Leonard said. “We were a brand-new school, and she wanted to have a mural painted at the entrance. She came out one afternoon while I was out at bus duty and asked if I could paint a mural at the entrance. I went home, changed clothes, grabbed my paints and we spent the night painting; it was a fun time.”
Leonard then assumed the principal position during spring break at Memorial Parkway Elementary.
“The following summer I decided to paint a mural at the front of Memorial Parkway Elementary,” Leonard said.
She had the opportunity to paint more when Memorial Parkway Elementary turned 30 years old.
“I painted a couple of Panthers in the gym, and they are still there. This year when they turned 40 years old, I painted a mural in the nurses’ office,” Leonard said. “I’m looking forward to see if they will invite me to paint in Olga Leonard Elementary.”
Leonard, 57-years old, has been retired for eight years, but she continues to give of her time to education and kids, serving as an interim principal a couple of times during her retirement.
“A few sub jobs here and there,” Leonard said. “Also, I had the opportunity to observe and supervise student teachers at the beginning of my retirement which was lots of fun.
“I’m one of those rare people who knew from the very young age what I wanted to be, to be a teacher. I don’t come from a family of educators, but I just love the idea of teaching. When my friends and I played, I always had to be the teacher. I knew from a very young age I had a love for kids, what really drives me in what I have done.”