Dr. Leo A. DeSantis

November 5, 1926 – March 26, 2009 - Biographical Information


Dr. Leo A. DeSantis was born in Colle, Italy in 1926. His father, Francesco, emigrated to America in 1923. Six years later, Leo and his mother, Maria, and his older brother Joseph joined their father who was living in Temple. The family soon grew to include brother, Ezio, and sisters, Alvia and Ida.

Dr. DeSantis graduated from Muhlenberg High School in 1944 and enlisted in the Army Air Force. He served for five years , including three with the 15th Air Force in Italy. In 1947, he met and married Yole Giovanelli of Naples. They returned to America in 1948 after his honorable discharge from the service.

In January 1949, he entered Kutztown State College (now Kutztown University) and completed a four year course in 2 ½ years. He was awarded his BS degree in secondary education in 1951 and began teaching history and English at Northwest Junior High School in Reading.

In September 1952, he became a history and government teacher in the Schuylkill Valley School District.

Two years later, he was promoted to assistant high school principal. In June 1954, he was awarded a master’s degree in educational administration from Temple University.

In June 1957, Dr. DeSantis was named principal of Schuylkill Valley High School. In June 1971, he was appointed the first superintendent of schools in the Schuylkill Valley School District. He received his doctorate in educational administration from Lehigh University in 1974 and retired in 1977.

During his tenure as a teacher, principal, and superintendent, the Schuylkill Valley School District experienced considerable growth. Enrollments increased with corresponding increases in faculty and support staff. A new high school building was constructed in 1958; a new middle school followed in 1974.

Schuylkill Valley’s educational programs at both the elementary and secondary levels were improved dramatically during his tenure.

Dr. DeSantis has been very active in numerous community service programs and organizations. He served as co-chairman of the 1992 Columbus Quincentennial Celebration for Reading and Berks County. He has been president and a member of the Muhlenberg School Board, president of the San Marco Society, and a member of the Reading Public Museum Task Force. He has been a trustee of the Reading Area community College since 1995, serving as chairman of the personnel committee, as well as chairman of the board of trustees from 2000 through 2008.

Dr. DeSantis is profiled in the History of Italian-Americans of Berks County, Pennsylvania. An illustrated book of his poems was published in 2009.