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About Jeff Leibovitz

black and white photo of Jeff Leibovitz

Jeff was the kind of person everyone liked and enjoyed being around. His ready smile put adults and children at ease immediately, and his positive outlook brightened conversation. His desire was to be an elementary teacher, and he had worked diligently toward that goal as a student at WIU's Rock Island Regional Undergraduate Center. On April 7, 1995, his death of a heart attack at age 38 came as he was completing a very successful practice teaching experience.

Like other nontraditional students, Jeff brought a rich background of experiences to his professional development. He had grown up in the Quad Cities and was a 1973 graduate of United Township High School, where he played varsity football and baseball. He left the area for military service, and returned to raise a family. After employment with the Rock Island Arsenal and John Deere & Company, he pursued rehabilitative counseling, accepting a position as a youth supervisor at Arrowhead Ranch. In Jeff's own words, he admitted, "Working at Arrowhead Ranch was partially responsible for my desire to enter the teaching profession. It was because of this experience that I realized how fulfilling being with and working with youth can be."

Sports also gave Jeff the chance to be with young people, and he viewed his seventh-grade basketball coaching for the Geneso public schools as an opportunity to instill confidence and build character in children. This, coupled with his fieldwork experiences in the education program, caused Jeff to conclude that a good teacher is one who truly cares for children and believes that all children can be successful with proper guidance.

While it at first appears that Jeff did not fulfill his goal to become a teacher, those who knew him feel that he did guide children to make some tremendous discoveries in the short time he spent with them. In particular, it was Jeff's implementation of some very worthwhile literature studies in fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms and the discussions he led focusing on the Holocaust that gave his professors, classmates, teachers, and students the idea to honor him through this memorial fund. So, teachers should use the Holocaust materials and take advantage of staff development opportunities in regard to the Holocaust.

I am a committed professional with a passion for helping young people build self-esteem and moral values through establishment of sportsmanlike conduct, teamwork, and intellectual challenges. I am dedicated to exerting a positive influence through thoughtfully constructed activities based on training and experience. I am driven to instill a sense of accomplishment, giving young people hope and helping ensure a positive, winning outcome.