Kerry Leard loves children. She has 5 of her own – Brendan-20, Erika-19, Marisa-16, Genna-15 and Gerard -13. And everyday she teaches 16 more children at the St. Peter Academy preschool. “I have 25 students total weekly and an average of 16 a day,” says Kerry. Teaching sixteen 3 to 4 year olds is no easy task but Kerry handles it like a true professional. Her patience and love of children exudes from her as she teaches her students. She knows each child’s strengths and works to improve upon their weaknesses. Her energy level is always on high and she never seems to unravel. “I adore working with preschoolers. Their pure joy and energy and just the life they bring to my classroom is a big motivator,” says Kerry. School Principal Janice Carthas says the love between Kerry her students is mutual. “The children love her as much as she loves them. Kerry is an amazing teacher.”
Kerry was born and bred in Southie. She is the youngest of three children of Buddy and Marilyn Norton. Her mother Marilyn – assists her in her classroom two days week. “She has more energy than anyone,” says Kerry of her 72-year old mother. And the apple apparently doesn’t fall far from the tree. Not only do both these ladies look years younger than they actually are, they both possess super-human energy and a positive outlook on life. Kerry lives with her children and husband Brian Leard (legendary bartender at the Atlantic Beer Garden) on Bantry Way. Kerry graduated from the Gate of Heaven School and MRM High School. She received a degree from Quincy College in Early Childhood Education.
Kerry feels passionately about not only her role as preschool teacher but also about St. Peter Academy. The Leard Family is one of the founding families that helped start the school after the Archdiocese of Boston closed St. Peter’s School. “It was so upsetting to see all these schools closing. The year before I moved my children from Gate of Heaven to St. Peter’s which was a difficult decision for me and then to have them close the St. Peter’s – it was heartbreaking,” says Kerry. She rallied together with other families and faculty and opened an independent private school with a catholic focus. It has been thriving since 2004. Student enrollment has doubled and come fall, St. Peter’s will have the addition of a second preschool – a huge milestone. Kerry will be actively involved in both classrooms, setting the curriculum and acting as a mentor to the new preschool teacher. Kerry’s prides herself on offering a loving and nurturing environment and a quality education for children to build upon. “The kids have fun while learning to love school.”
Not only does she love her preschoolers but also she loves her fellow teachers and the families that make up the community of St. Peter’s. “It’s a very involved community – families are very hands on and there are lots of family activities to participate in socially and academically,” says Leard. As to stand out St. Peter events, being in the renowned “St. Peter Academy Dance Troop” – a dance group composed of teachers, parents and friends of St. Peter’s – has been one of her highlights. “It lots of fun! And we get the fame – minus the fortune,” jokes Kerry. The Troop will start practicing soon for their next performance on April 8th at the St. Peter’s spring dance and auction.
Kerry Leard is an amazing mother and teacher. Her generous spirit, her unfaltering energy, and her loving but no nonsense approach to teaching children, has made her a stand out in the South Boston community. According to preschool mom Carrie Coughlin Germain, Kerry was the deciding factor that made her choose St. Peter Academy. “When I first met her, she said ‘I will love your child as much as my own children,’ and it’s true, evident every day at drop off. She is truly an amazing person.”
And that is why Kerry Leard is our February Character of the Month.