Giant in multilingual education Reg St Leon OAM leaves vibrant legacy

The IGS Community gives thanks for the life and vision of Founding Principal Professor Reg St Leon OAM, multilingual education pioneer, who died on 1 March 2019 at the age of 90.

The news comes as the School celebrates its 35th anniversary.

With its motto Unity Through Diversity, our secular, coeducational inner city school has grown from 44 students in 1984 to more than 1,250 students, from Preschool to Year 12, in 2019.

The former University of Sydney lecturer in Germanic studies was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2017 for his service to the multicultural community, and to education.

At the time, Reg said: “When I am gathered to my fathers at the end of my life, I will think, I did one thing that was terribly worthwhile, and that was starting the foreign language teaching at IGS. Those kids at IGS are the luckiest children in the world.”

IGS Acting Principal Mary Duma said the IGS community honours Professor St Leon for his far-sighted vision to establish International Grammar School (IGS) in 1984, a school in which students could be taught in many languages from the age of 3.

“At our Speech Night last year, we unveiled a portrait of this great educator in his presence, and we have been honouring him as we celebrate our 35th anniversary throughout this year,” Mary said.

“Many members of our staff and community share vivid memories of his abiding passion for language education and his insistence that all children should have the opportunity to learn another language from an early age, to reap the developmental benefits of bilingualism.

“We are proud to live the values Professor St Leon established for our School – vibrancy, authenticity, connectedness, diversity and personal achievement – and to continue our Mission to equip students to be world ready. The world has lost a giant.

“We are indebted to Reg St Leon for his extraordinary vision and tenacity in the face of early indifference and diverse challenges.”

“We offer our condolences to his many friends and family and give thanks for his vibrant legacy,” said Dr Marie Leech, Chair of the IGS Board, on behalf of the Board, staff and IGS community.

Please view tributes to Reg St Leon from IGS Principal Shauna Colnan, Acting Principal Mary Duma and from founding teachers