NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
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A Letter of Gratitude to the Phillips Community”¦from Leon Oman

A Letter of Gratitude to the Phillips Community”¦from Leon Oman

by Leon Oman Dear Community of Phillips, Let me express my deepest thanks and gratitude to the Phillips community upon my retirement from Community Education at Andersen School. It has been a profound joy and honor to serve with you over the past 28+ years. I appreciate all the well-wishes that people have shared, both formally and informally, for this next chapter of life. As I reflect on these many past years, gratitude also swells up within me for all of the ways that Phillips, both you as individuals and you as organizations, have supported Community Education: You have participated in classes and activities; involved yourself as volunteers, teachers and staff; used our gym and meeting facilities; provided input and feedback for programming, both informally as well as formally through our Advisory Council; partnered with us on out-of-school time programs for youth and lifelong learning for adults; provided financial support for many initiatives; collaborated on events; and many other ways. Your personal support along that way has been so fulfilling and motivating. The community has changed a lot in the years I”'ve been here. I can so clearly recall my first day in June, 1981 ”“ getting off the #21 bus on Lake and 10th Ave. and walking up to Andersen ”“ stepping over tree limbs that had fallen when a Sunday tornado had ripped through South Mpls. I traveled a lot on foot in those days, trying to get a close-hand view of the neighborhood and meeting the folks that lived here and were leaders here. The Egg and I on Chicago Ave., was a great place to meet with people, much like Maria”'s is today. It was then that I came to know the great community activism that is such a hallmark of Phillips ”“ both leaders who work in the neighborhood organizations as well as folks working on their blocks to make improvements. A wonderful case in point some years ago ”“ a drug house that was down at the end of Andersen Lane, a [...]

Leon Oman retires after 28 years in Community Education at Andersen Elementary

Leon Oman retires after 28 years in Community Education at Andersen Elementary

By Harvey Winje Two hundred people greeted and cheered Leon Oman on his last day of 28 years as a Minneapolis Schools Community Education Coordinator at Andersen School in the Phillips Community. His years as a community educator brought together his passion for education, his seven years experience as a social worker, as well as, his involvement in citizen participation in the Rice Park neighborhood. Five presenters reminisced about years spent, experiences shared and generally agreed that there were no skeletons about which they could “roast” Leon. However, they altered a shared experience while on a car trip in order to be sure we all knew Leon had made at least one mistake in his career. The Webster Open School Cafeteria was gaily decorated setting the mood for an upbeat celebration that included several of Leon”'s family members, Phillips Community residents, community leaders from many neighborhoods, past interns, students, current and former colleagues and many, many friends. Paul Boranian attended the event. He was the founder of Community Education in Minneapolis, its director for many years and was the person who hired Leon 28 years ago. Community Education”'s current Director, Jack Tamble also paid a tribute to Leon. The program was one and a half hours long as attendees shared personal experiences and examples of Leon”'s gentle demeanor whether he is handling parking or curriculum issues, interfacing with the day school, student conduct, or sustaining relationships with many community groups in South Minneapolis. One former principal said he recalled that when he first came to Andersen, he discovered that meeting new neighbors, interfacing with personnel for the first time, or bringing up new ideas were all made more credible if he just mentioned Leon”'s name first. He then said that he discovered the same was true when he was reassigned years later to a North Minneapols school. Yes, indeed Leon”'s name [...]

Memories of Leon: Being with Leon, you are the focus

by Jonathan Miller Without Leon Oman I would probably be unemployed right now. No, Leon didn”'t personally give me a job, but the strong impression he left on me during my internship with The Alley Newspaper did steer me away from the career path I was on”“Magazine journalism. We all know how swimmingly that industry is fairing right now and in part because of Leon, I realized that believing in what I do is very important to me and I moved into non-profit communications. Leon was my mentor and advisor during my first internship with The Alley Newspaper way back in 1999. The focus of the project was to get children and teenagers involved in the paper, so Leon was the natural choice for two reasons: 1. He worked at Andersen School. 2. He knows EVERYONE in Phillips and EVERYONE knows him and respects him. Leon was always able to make time to provide guidance or give me background on the complex dynamics of the Phillips Community even though he was constantly being pulled in different directions. But the advantages that Leon provided were more than just his connections. When you talk to Leon, he has a real knack for connecting with you. He has a real talent for taking young people under his wing and mentoring. It feels like you are the focus of all his attention, but then you look around and realize that he has a similar mentoring relationship with 20 other students and volunteers at the same time. And that was just during one summer. Imagine the hundreds of people that Leon has had this affect on during his career. Amazing when you think about it! If you know Leon you know that he would never be so heavy handed as to say something like, “Jonathan, after you might want to consider a career in the non profit world.” Leon”'s approach is gently probing questions, a genuine interest in you and leading by example. And it was Leon”'s example of mentoring and giving students the tools to succeed on their own that made me think, [...]

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