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Mary Elizabeth Leiby Scholarship

Allentown Educator Endowed Scholarship

Taught from 1907 – 1954

Mary E. Leiby, a long time social studies and guidance teacher in Allentown School District, willed an endowed scholarship fund for graduating ASD students pursuing post-secondary education through a generous gift from her estate.

A student graduating will be selected from William Allen High School and one from Louis E. Dieruff High School every year. Each will receive a one-year scholarship in the range of $1,000.

Ms. Leiby started teaching in the Allentown School District in 1907. She taught for 47 years. Upon retirement, she served one term in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Ms. Leiby died in 1995 and made provisions in her estate for the scholarship. She outlined in her will her thoughts on the importance of education and the significance of scholarships. The following excerpt from the last will and testament of Ms. Leiby provides historical insight into the life of Teacher Mary E Leiby, in her own hand:

I [Mary Leiby] was born November 20th, 1888. Graduated from Allentown High School in June, 1905. During the following year, I was sent around to schools, to observe other teachers. During the next year, I substituted when needed. In September, 1907, I started teaching first grade in the Fourth Ward of Allentown. Later, I taught in the new Mosser Building and in the Garfield Building. During this time, I took college courses taught by faculty from Muhlenberg, Penn State, and Lehigh, evenings and Saturdays. In June, 1924, Muhlenberg College granted me a Bachelor of Arts degree. During the next fall, winter, and spring, I commuted to New York City on the train, taking courses at Columbia University, Friday evenings and Saturdays, spending full time there in the summer. In the fall of 1925, Columbia granted me the degree of Master of Arts. On January 1st, 1922, I was transferred to Central Junior High School, teaching Social Studies and Guidance in the 7th grade. Here I spent the rest of my teaching career. I taught for a total of 47 years. After retirement, I served one term of two years as a Representative in the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I was president of the local retired Teachers Association for a number of years, and active in the Lehigh County Club of Democratic Women.

It was a struggle for me to get two college degrees, while working full time. It is my firm conviction that education leads to a fuller life, along with an improved capability to earn a living. I have always been opposed to waste in any form. I have saved carefully, for many years, to accumulate this Education Fund. As a teacher, I never earned large amounts, nor have I speculated. Consequently, the principal amount of this Fund was saved, dollar by dollar, from my earnings.