ICA Cristo Rey Bids Farewell to a Beloved Teacher
By Sherine Abib ’21, Christina Green ’20, and Jennifer Rios-Rodriguez ’21
ICA Cristo Rey’s students, staff, and community give a fond thanks and farewell to Vincent Leach--or as many of us know him, Mr. Leach--who will retire after the 2018-2019 school year and a 43-year career at ICA.
It all started when Mr. Leach’s sister, Mary Virginia Leach, came to Immaculate Conception Academy as a student from St. James School. Mr. Leach found himself invited to a ceremony in the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose Motherhouse, where he was offered a job as an English teacher at ICA. The rest was history.
Years previously, a young Mr. Leach had attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory interested in becoming a teacher to “make a difference” in the education of the next generation. After high school, he attended the University of California at Berkeley and graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English. During his years in college, he lived at home and worked part-time jobs to pay his tuition. He later took the Teacher’s Qualifying Exam in Social Studies because of his “personal interests as well as [his] extensive background in the area; a double major would serve to widen [his] future employment possibilities.” Leach worked for some time at Westmoore High School teaching English before finding his way to ICA.
“My first impression of Mr. Leach was that he was very witty and intelligent. He continues to amaze me with the knowledge he possesses… Only gifted teachers stand the test of time and his career has spanned 40+ years,” Kathleen Hoffman, an ICA English teacher, told us. Hoffman remembered a fun story about Mr. Leach: “Mr. Leach participated in a skit we performed called the ‘Third Floor Divas’ [involving Mr. Leach, Ms. Hoffman, & Ms. Gelormino]. Mr. Leach was named an honorary diva and teachers danced to Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me, Maybe.’ He was a good sport as teachers pretended to share phone numbers with him in hopes he would call… Mr. Leach is a gift that will be missed by the entire ICA community and I wish him all the best.”
“Mr. Leach possesses extraordinary intelligence (and shares knowledge in a way that doesn't make you feel stupid for asking), and he is a person of integrity--forthright, reliable, and honest. It's a rare combination,” said Mary Cerutti, retired ICA English Chair. “My first impression was that he was a combination of hilarious (though he sometimes makes terrible jokes that only a third-grade boy would enjoy) and unbelievably smart. You can ask him about almost anything (well, maybe not how to cook), and he can pull a pretty sharp answer from memory--history, language, literature, science, obscure saints--you ask it, he'll probably know. He is fun to talk to!” Mary continued to tell of her adventures with Mr. Leach saying, “One adventure we had several years ago was driving to Sacramento one summer day to pick up a kitten he had adopted from a friend of mine. The car broke down on the freeway back to San Francisco in the middle of a very hot afternoon, and the whole day became quite a comedy of errors and we didn’t get back to SF till about midnight. Everyone survived the experience, including the kitten who at one point leaped many feet in the air and pulled Mr. Leach’s glasses right off his face. He still kept her though.”
Mr. Leach also has made quite an impression on his students as well. “He was passionate about teaching history,” said Erika Rangel, Business Administration Program Coordinator on the CWSP team. “Believe it or not, I would fall asleep during his slide shows and he would say, ‘Ms. Rangel, I’m sorry to disturb your nap!’ Mr. Leach always mispronounced my last name. I think it wasn’t until I started working at ICA, I told him.” But Ms. Rangel believes his stories “made me want to experience and see the world.”
Pamela Cabotaje, current ICA junior, had a different name pronunciation story about Mr. Leach: “I will miss when Mr. Leach calls me by ‘Ms. Cabotaje.’ I will not forget how he was the only person at ICA who pronounced my last name correctly on the first try. Because of this and all the work he’s done as an educator, he is greatly appreciated and valued.” Cabotaje continued by saying, “I’m definitely going to miss his dry humor and sarcasm. It gave the class a lot of character and made learning more enjoyable. I liked his method of teaching, especially when we’d do creative projects after each unit in order to reinforce the material.” Mr. Leach is a dedicated and proficient teacher that has the drive to teach students the best way he can which shows through his former and current students.
“We had many good experiences and he was very supportive of me when I was a young widow. One positive experience I remember was when Ms. Cerutti, Ms. Hoffman, Mr. Leach, and I went to the Rolling Stones concert in 1994 at the Oakland Coliseum,” Spanish teacher Ms. Mahri Gelormino said. “Exceptionally knowledgeable, [he is] a brainy guy, very nice and kind.”
Here are some fun facts you might have not known about Mr. Leach: Leach loves classical and movie-theme music, in addition to his grandmother’s Italian home-cooked meals and iced tea. His pet peeves include people who chew with their mouth open and students on their phone while walking. A couple of skills Leach would like to master are riding a horse and playing the guitar because his sister plays the guitar. Shows he enjoys are the original Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and The Big Bang Theory. His favorite color is blue. He has three cats, and he studied Latin and Greek in high school. Lastly, the adventure he would most like to go take in his retirement is to travel throughout Asia.
Thank you so much Mr. Leach, for your investment and commitment in your students’ lives and your lasting impression on the entire ICA Cristo Rey community. We will dearly miss you. As the Rolling Stones said: “Till the next time we say goodbye.”