Cohort 2 Biographies
Leslie De Leonardis was born and raised in Sun Valley, CA and she still lives not too far from her childhood home in Burbank. Her parents were both born, raised and lived a good portion of their lives in Italy. Both Leslie and her sister are first generation American-born, yet remain filled with the Italian culture and language. Even with her parents being new to the country, they saw a value in Catholic Education. Leslie is, therefore, a product of Catholic Education starting at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary for elementary school and ending at Bellarmine – Jefferson for High School, as their Valedictorian. Leslie was surrounded by Catholic Educators her whole life. Her mom, in attempts to better her English, began volunteering in Leslie’s Kinder classroom and ended up staying for 30 years as an employee of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. After high school, Leslie attended UCLA where she obtained her degree with a focus on psychology, behavior modification (Autism) and learning disabilities. She had never planned to go into teaching, other than being a private tutor since the age of 15. However, she received the “call” to join the teaching profession 13 years ago, as a Junior High Math & Science teacher for St. Francis of Assisi School for 7 years. Later continuing her teaching career at St. Ignatius school for 2 years. Again, Leslie had also never planned to go into Administration – however, she received the “call” to return to St. Francis of Assisi (SFA) School as Principal 4 years ago. This was a call that spoke to her due to the nature of rebuilding and revitalizing a school where she began her journey into Catholic Education. Her 4 year journey as Principal at SFA has been Blessed with strides in innovation and growth due to a hardworking, dedicated staff. Being in education for 13 years now (with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles), Leslie has been greatly influenced by the diligence and strength of our Department of Catholic Schools, that she is now taking steps to obtain her Admin credentials and Master’s as she embarks on her 5th year as Principal.
St. Francis of Assisi is a Catholic elementary school located in the heart of Silver Lake with grades ranging from Transitional Kindergarten through Eighth Grade. Saint Francis of Assisi School opened on September 6, 1938 with ninety-two students in grades one through eight. In 1951, the current school building was opened. A kindergarten class was added in September of 1983 and a transitional kindergarten class was added in August of 2013. Our Mission states: Through the collaborative partnership with families, the Church and the greater community, St. Francis of Assisi School equips students with the tools to innovate and act compassionately to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. Students work in small multiage groups to insure that all students receive the appropriate instruction to promote high achievement and innovative thinking through STREAM. We provide our students with an extended academic calendar, a curriculum designed on the Common Core & State Standards and a rich liturgical life that fosters their faith journey. Teachers are dedicated to working with parents and students collaboratively to best meet the needs of all students within our new Multiage STREAM learning model.
Website link: www.stfrancisla.com
OL-Villarreal Profile PicOur Lady of Guadalupe School, located in the heart of East Los Angeles, has provided education, formation and overall outreach to the Belvedere and City Terrace communities since 1950. The majority of the students are of Latino descent and members of the Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. Additionally, many are also the children of alumni. The majority of families are working class parents who receive some form of tuition assistance. Our Lady of Guadalupe School is blessed to have the support of the OLG Alumni Association who assists the school with monetary and in-kind donations. Graduates work to keep alive the legacy of faith, service, and excellence started by the founding Columban Sisters many years ago.
Teresa Villarreal is in her twenty-third year in Catholic Education. She was born and raised in East Los Angeles and is a proud graduate of Our Lady of Guadalupe School. After graduating from OLG, she attended Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello and then went on to be the first to attend a university in her family. She obtained a degree in History with an emphasis on Diversified Liberal Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles and earned a California Teaching Credential from California State University, Los Angeles.
This fall began her eighth year as principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe School where she also served as vice-principal and taught third, fourth, and fifth grades. She is currently serving her third year on Leadership Council as Deanery 9 PLC chair. Additionally, she is the principal representative for the San Gabriel region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on the MAX LA (Marketing Archdiocesan Excellence in Los Angeles) team.
Ms. Villarreal is the eldest of four children and all graduates of Our Lady of Guadalupe School and Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. She is married and has two beautiful daughters who are also proud graduates of OLG School. Her eldest, Christine, attended St. Paul High School and her youngest, Samantha, is currently attending Cantwell-Sacred Heart High School.
Website link: http://www.olglions.org
School Principal, Mrs. Christina S. Arellano, was born in New Delhi (India) and is a product of Catholic Education herself.
She has served in the role of Principal with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for the past 8 years, prior to which she served in the role of Junior High Math teacher for an additional five years. Christina holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Masstricht School of Management, The Netherlands and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. Prior to her service with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, she was a Project Manager for an International Business Development in South Asia and a Personnel Consultant for the Embassy of the United States in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Christina currently attends Loyola Marymount University to complete her second Master’s degree in Education. Her strong commitment to education is evident from her role as Chair on WCEA and WASC visiting committees and her membership on the Archdiocesan Leadership Council. Christina has a lifelong commitment to Catholic education and is dedicated to faith-based learning and child safety; she considers it a privilege to be included in the journey of all the children who have been entrusted to her care.
St. Stephen Marty School is located in the City of Monterey Park. St. Stephen has provided faith and education to its community since 1926.
Because of its central location and proximity to downtown Los Angeles, St. Stephen Martyr School is frequently regarded as a good commuter school. Monterey Park is part of a cluster of cities (Alhambra, Arcadia, Temple City, Rosemead, San Marino, and San Gabriel in the west San Gabriel Valley) with a growing Asian American population, making up 66.9% of its resident population at 2010; 47.7% of its residents are of Chinese descent, the largest concentration of Chinese Americans of any municipality in the United States.
At St. Stephen Martyr School, parents, teachers, students, and staff form learning and faith-based community committed to helping each student demonstrate in Christ-like qualities of respect, compassion and tolerance. They strive to help students become lifelong learners who demonstrate personal responsibility and commitment to the larger community.
Website link: http://www.ssmartyr.org
St. Sebastian School
Saint Sebastian School provides academic excellence in a Catholic, multilingual setting in order to prepare students to serve as faith-filled disciples in our global community. We are located in the heart of West Los Angeles with a preschool serving 2 and 3 year olds, a TK and kindergarten through 8th grade. Nearly half of the student body qualifies for free or reduced price lunch, more than 80% of our families are Catholic, and more than half speak a language other than English at home. With a diverse population of students and families, two years ago, we decided to capitalize on the language assets of our students and implement a dual language program. This means that instruction is given in Spanish and English in line with a 50/50 dual language program model. Students learn not only how to read, write, listen, speak and think in both languages, but they are simultaneously learning content in both. Science and mathematics are taught at in Spanish, and social studies and religion are taught in English.