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.
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.
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.
September 1952, he became a history and government teacher in
the Schuylkill Valley School District.
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.
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.
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.
Valley’s educational programs at both the elementary and
secondary levels were improved dramatically during his tenure.
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.
DeSantis is profiled in the History of Italian-Americans
of Berks County, Pennsylvania. An illustrated book of his
poems was published in 2009.