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Education professor John Leach dies

by Sherry Fisher - June 8, 2009


John Leach, associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the Neag School of Education, died May 27. He was 84.

Leach, who lived in Manchester, joined the UConn faculty in 1968. He earned a master’s degree from Trinity College and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

His fields of research specialization included second language acquisition, teaching English as a second language, dual language instruction, and Caribbean cultures.

“He was a gentleman, a professional, and a warm person who was loved and admired by many people,” says Thomas Goodkind, professor of curriculum and instruction.

“He was probably the best public relations person the school had. He was positive, always had a smile on his face, and was a great ambassador for UConn and the school. He had a great gift for attracting people.”

Goodkind says Leach, who worked with minorities, was noted for his innovative courses. “His students loved him,” he says. “He was a great person and will be sorely missed.”

Eliana Rojas, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, says Leach was a dedicated educator, known for his strong leadership and community activism.

“He encouraged students to be proactive in the community,” says Rojas. “He would recommend that students write letters to community leaders and Congress to express their concerns about issues. He wanted them to be proactive in a conciliatory, non-aggressive way.”

Rojas adds, “Many teachers, administrators, and school leaders participated in his international educational seminar in Aruba, one of the first study abroad educational experiences for educators in a multilingual, multicultural, international arena. The teachers and administrators I talked to always had praise for it.”

Ana Davila, a former graduate student, says, “Dr. Leach left a lifelong impression in my heart. He was kind, caring, comprehensive, and a strong advocate of equal education. He believed that one day we will be able to teach all children with the same respect and enthusiasm, without barriers or differences due to languages or ethnicities.”

Leach was a member of International Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), the Connecticut Association of Latin Americans in Higher Education, and Connecticut TESOL. He traveled extensively and was an Honorary Citizen of Aruba.

He is survived by his wife Sofia, four children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Donations in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 1004, Meriden, CT 06405.

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