Rev. Joseph Emrich was appointed founding pastor of Saint Leonard Parish on Sept. 22, 1953. While the church was being built from 1953 – 1956, mass was celebrated in the chapel of Saint Joseph Orphanage on Frankfort Avenue . In December, 1956, the construction on the new Saint Leonard parish and school was completed, and an opening date for school was set for September, 1957. The Ursuline Sisters of Mt. Saint Joseph, Owensboro, KY, were contacted and agreed to send four teaching sisters. With the addition of a lay music teacher, the nuns divided the first through seventh grades for the 1957- 1958 school year. The school’s first graduating class was celebrated in June, 1959. By Sept. 1961, two classrooms had been added to the south end of the building to accommodate our growing school population. During the mid-1960’s, the school was “bursting at the seams,” and a trailer was added for the kindergarten class.
Saint Leonard Parish School is small by design; however, the year 2001 marked the beginning of renovations made to school facilities. New construction was completed, including a Family Life Center (that houses a gymnasium and two meeting rooms); at the other end of the facility, additions included a science lab, library, two preschool rooms, computer lab and school office space. Beginning in 2008 with completion in 2009, both student bathroom facilities in the original school building were completely renovated, including handicap accessible stalls. During the summer of 2010, central air was installed in the original building. Plans are currently being made to replace all windows as well – this is to take place in the summer of 2011.
Our school population has gone from a high of 207 students in 1965 to as low as 156 in 1996. Current population figures are 159 students in Preschool - Grade 8. School facilities for K – 8 are able to accommodate one of each grade level (capacity 220). We have two Preschool classrooms for three- and four-year-old students. Factors affecting enrollment include demographics, public school improvements, ever-increasing tuition rates compounded by economic trends and development of religious discontentment of young families. The majority of our students live in the Crescent Hill/Saint Matthews area; however, because of our convenient location to I-71, we have several families that commute from neighboring counties due to employment in downtown Louisville. We are a diversified community: fifteen percent are from ethnic groups other than Caucasian. The majority of our students are Catholic (most belong to Saint Leonard parish and clustered parish, Saint Frances of Rome), but we do have non-Catholic families whose children are enrolled. While no one has a crystal ball that allows us to project enrollments for upcoming years, it is our hope to increase student populations by offering to families, opportunities that aren’t typical in larger schools.
Saint Leonard School follows the curriculum guidelines as mandated by the Louisville Archdiocese. Each spring, Saint Leonard participates in Terra Nova standardized testing for all students in grades 3, 5, and 7 – hard copies and digital copies of results are available on site; during the 2005-2006 through 2009-2010 school years, Saint Leonard had 151 students qualify for the Duke University Talent Identification Program and the John Hopkins Program. This is our fifth year of participating in ACRE testing – results are also available on site. It is not uncommon for Saint Leonard graduates to be honor roll members at the high schools of their choice. Typically, we receive notifications each quarter that affirm their successes. Required accreditation documentation can be found on site. Our teaching staff has a mastery level of 95 percent; student-teacher ratio is 16:1. We are fortunate to have award winning teachers on our staff – they are recipients of Aegon Teaching Grants, Uhlmer Award and the Fred Wiche Award that is offered by Operation Brightside (Mary Parola is the first Archdiocesan instructor to ever receive this Award). Special areas include art, physical education, music/drama, technology and foreign language; all 8th grade students are taught Algebra, not just those qualifying for the Archdiocesan program. We have a full-time Resource Coordinator on staff to aid with students having learning differences. In addition to their normal duties, all faculty members are involved with our students in various extracurricular activities – Book Bee, Quick Recall, Young Authors, Governor's Cup and an archery program to name a few.
We have made a push to expose our students to the benefits of technology. Currently every classroom is equipped with SmartBoards, document cameras, and pc's for student use. The primary classrooms share 25 iPad mini's as well as 25 Lenovo Thinkpads. Our Middle School has incorporated the use of 1:1 Technology - starting the 2015-2016 school year every student has access to a personal device (tablet or chromebook, depending upon grade) 24/7. Portable Student Response Systems- are available as an option to test taking. Students have had access to video-conferencing with NASA and the Louisville Science Center. In addition to reading and research materials available in our library, there are twelve additional workstations for web-browsing and research.