Leidolf answers her students questions. Photo by Regan Wright.
Leidolf answers her students questions. Photo by Regan Wright.

Leidolf Leaves a Legacy of Language

April 5, 2023

Beth Leidolf has been a staple of the York language department for countless years. The first teaching job she took out of college was at York, and she has been here ever since. Since 1990, she has been teaching and watching her Spanish students grow. However, after 33 years, she is ready to retire. When asked about what inspired her to learn and teach Spanish in the first place, she reflected on her childhood with her father.

“My dad inspired us to travel,” Leidolf said. “He always took our family on vacation. I think I got this love of travel and exploring, and Spanish seemed like a natural fit for that, I have always been a learner, and I always had a great time in Spanish. It was so fun for me to say these words, which I realized meant the same as these words I already used, and I found that fascinating.”

Through her love of learning, Leidolf has constantly changed the way she presents her curriculum. Whether that be to match what is happening in society today, or to become more tech savvy. Elizabeth Knoch, who is the world language department coordinator as well as a Spanish teacher, remembered how Leidolf taught her so many new things when she arrived at York four years ago.

“She is a big advocate for the use of technology in the classroom,” Knoch said. “When I first started, she taught me all about technology and how to use it in the classroom. So, I think our program has benefited from her pushing us to use more technology in our lessons to engage students.”

Leidolf cares deeply about her students, both in the classroom and graduating. As a result of her teaching style, kids are both integrated and motivated to learn. A previous student of Leidolf, Lily Rennick, remembers their time in her classroom and the valuable lessons they learned.

“In middle school, I gained insecurity about learning Spanish,” Rennick said. “When I entered Ms. Leidolfs class, she has taught me to be more outgoing in class. Which has been very helpful both in and out of class. I’ve been very out loud with my opinions, comments, and even my questions, to help me learn. I am very grateful I had her [Leidolf] freshman and sophomore year”

Not only does Rennick look back on their time in Leidolf’s classroom with a smile, so does Adam Fennell, a current student of hers. When asked what word he would use to describe their teacher, he had an excited response.

She does a great job connecting to the students since she takes time out of her schedule to talk to students, and listen to their stories,” Fennell said. “She also takes feedback from the week and adjusts the class in order to support the students in the best way possible. She has also been experimenting with different teaching techniques to see which ones students like best.”

From the perspective of her students and colleagues, she will be leaving behind a legacy that current, and future, language teachers of York can learn from. When asked about what legacy Ms. Leidolf will be leaving behind at York, Knoch got teary eyed.

“She is such an involved teacher, she has taught all the Spanish levels here, she loves York with her whole heart, and she loves everyone,” Knoch said. “ I think her leadership and her kindness is what people will remember her for.”

Even though she will be leaving the place she has called home for 33 years, Leidolf has big plans for her retirement. 

“I plan on continuing my drawing, which I picked up a couple years ago, and also I hope to find a little part time job at a local library,” Leidolf said with a grin. “Where I can continue to support kids in education, step away from the papers and the planning, but still feel that kids are coming in, that I am interacting with them, and supporting schools. I can use my Spanish in that capacity as well, especially if it’s a library in a multicultural town or neighborhood.”

Leidolf, affectionately known by the staff as the ‘Duchess of York”, may be departing from the school, but has high hopes for the future of not only the Spanish department, but for the school in general. 

“I will miss York, but the energy that is here continues on after we leave,” Leidolf said. “My hope is for students to take a break from phones and computers and make friends in the building, and to get involved, because that is what the York family is all about, it’s the people.”

Leidolf will continue to carry the impression that York has imprinted on her for the rest of her life.

“Some of my warmest memories of York are from the students and the teachers, when people were there for you when it was tough, or you needed a helping hand and they were there,” Leidolf said. “When I got here I heard about the York family and 33 years later, it’s still here. And I hope it goes for another 33 years.”

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