Bob Leih, Idyllwild Middle School science teacher, continues a distinguished lineage of teachers. Both his mother and father were teachers. Leih is one of five siblings, all of whom have been teachers at one time or another. And Leih’s oldest daughter is a teacher in Orange County.
The Hemet Unified School District recently announced Leih as Middle School Teacher of the Year. This is not the first time Leih has been so honored. In 1993-94, Leih was Hamilton School Teacher of the Year and in 1999-2000, he was Bautista Creek Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
Leih has lived in Idyllwild since age 2. “I remember Welch’s Carriage Inn with the upstairs bowling alley,” he said. “I even applied to work there as a kid. I also knew Ernie Maxwell and worked with him on trail staff. It’s where I acquired my love of the outdoors and interest in the environment.” He fondly remembers being a student at Idyllwild Elementary. “Having gone to school there, every time I walk the halls I am flooded by these memories.”
Leih said the cornerstone of his teaching is building relationships. “Building relationships with students, fellow teachers and parents is the most important thing,” he said. “With students, it’s a window into their lives and helps me reach them. And it’s not always about test scores. I want them to come away being a better person, respecting other people and working for the greater good. I hope they’ll be able to live their lives better as a result of their time with me.”
In applying for Teacher of the Year, Leih wrote, “One of my greatest contributions in education has been to create a safe climate for students to learn and parents to become involved in their child’s learning.”
As a science teacher with a great love of the outdoors, Leih imbues his students with appreciation for the natural world. He notes, “As an example, for the past many years, I have raised rainbow trout in the classroom. After learning about the life cycle of trout and the many other organisms they interact with, we take a year-end field trip to a local stream where we release them. I love teaching science and students love learning about it. Every day in the classroom is filled with the wonder and excitement students have for science, and I have the joy in being able to share in it.
“I am so blessed to be a small part of helping others in their journey and being part of this community. I never tire of this small-town feeling, knowing so many people and the great support you get.”
Leih will be officially honored at the HUSD offices on Wednesday, March 23.