March 10, 2021
On Purim, February 25, Congregation Agudas Achim held a ceremony for the purpose of naming a classroom in honor and memory of long-time member and educator Michele Leverant (z’l). The honor was made possible by a generous gift from her husband, Dr. Gerald Leverant.
“We’ve been here for 130 plus years,” said Board of Trustees President Craig Berkowitch, “and through generosity such as (Dr. Leverant’s), we’ll continue to be here for 130 more. Today we dedicate a classroom to the legacy of Michele Leverant’s support for education and children.”
At the ceremony, Dr. Leverant lovingly spoke of how as a young teacher trained to educate and motivate students with learning challenges, Michele taught at the Winston School in San Antonio. After a successful teaching career at Winston, Michele joined the Defense Language Institute English Language Center where she taught English to visiting foreign armed services officers. In this capacity, Michele met and interacted with many members of the global military community, even bringing an Egyptian General to services at Agudas Achim one Shabbat. “In response to Michele’s educational achievements, the NEISD (Northeast Independent School District) nominated her for an H-E-B sponsored educator award. Additionally, she was honored for her work at special events and presentations in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Missouri,” Dr. Leverant remarked.
Michele’s ongoing dedication to education led to her volunteering with the Jewish Federation of San Antonio’s (JFSA) Jewish Coalition for Literacy which was spearheaded at the time by Maxine Cohen. Joining the JFSA staff, Michele worked diligently with her colleagues and volunteers on the local Russian Resettlement Program. Rivka Schechter, one of the volunteers said, “Working together, that program continued to grow until it eventually spun-off into a program teaching English as a second language.” Under the auspices of JFSA, Michele helped lead the refugee participants to become proficient enough to qualify for American citizenship. Through her ongoing efforts, Michele assisted in the expansion into the Tu-To-R Programs with over 100 volunteers. Ultimately, that program evolved into Michele’s involvement with a group of volunteers who helped mentor Title I students on a weekly basis in their own schools over a 20year period. Together, both the volunteers and students worked in a coordinated effort with Michele Leverant toward becoming more adept and successful in achieving their newfound educational skills.
With attendees clustered around the classroom entrance, Senior Rabbi Sharon Cohen offered a blessing, saying, “through the great generosity of Gerry and their daughters, we know Michele’s memory will continue to be an inspiration and blessing to all who walk through these doors, to all the little ones who find love, care and learning within this space, and to their parents who will see this plaque and learn from the generosity, spirit, and beauty of Michele.” An etched bronze plaque featuring the name Michele DuBrow Leverant Classroom, her image and a graphic of an adult reading to a child proudly hung next to the classroom door. Adjacent to it, a brightly decorated mini-billboard was emblazoned with Hebrew writing reading L‘DOR VDOR FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION.