By Jenn Watt
Published June 20 2017
Kids were always top of mind when Len Salvatori said his piece on the Haliburton County Board of Education. For 35 years the Haliburton resident helped shape the educational landscape for the Highlands as a board trustee making tough decisions and helping to create the institutions here today.
To honour that role Trillium Lakelands District School Board is renaming the Haliburton Alternate Education and Training Centre which will be called the Leonard Salvatori Alternate Education Centre.
Trustee Gary Brohman made the recommendation which was passed at the June 13 board meeting.
“Len Salvatori always looked out for students. He passed motions at the board level to give students the best chances regardless of their ability” said Brohman in an interview with the Echo .
Making recognition a more regular occurrence is important to Brohman who said as a society we need to get better at thanking people for the work they do for the greater good.
While he was principal of Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Brohman worked closely with Salvatori and respected the dedication he had to the job.
“I always asked Lenny for advice” he said.
Salvatori said he was grateful for the recognition but wanted to point out that his efforts were matched by many around him over the years.
“Everybody’s important. Everybody’s got a voice. I just happened to be there [for a long time]” he said.
But it wasn’t just longevity.
During his tenure on the school board which started in the 1960s Salvatori had to make tough decisions. Some schools closed. Things changed. The board elected to make significant investments in properties used by students in Haliburton and Minden today.
“Those are two great things” he said thinking back to those investments.
He also served as Scout leader for 30 years and was involved with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association for 45. He was honoured as Highlander of the Year in 1978 and Citizen of the year in 1993. All the while he was working at Curry Motors where he worked for 45 years becoming co-owner.
Thinking about why he gave so much of his time to volunteering in the community Salvatori credited his parents both Italians who chose to live in the Highlands.
His father Armando came to Canada from Sarnano Italy in the 1920s and met Mary Biagi who had been living in Sault Ste. Marie after her family emigrated from Italy. “I’ve always believed that people have been good to me wonderful to me really. I’ve tried to reciprocate that” he said.
He also stressed the accomplishments of his wife Betty who was a teacher as well as an active volunteer. She helped at Extendicare was a Sunday school teacher and volunteered giving rides to cancer patients.
Together Len and Betty raised three children: Andy Laurie and Lisa. He now has six grandchildren who he says he calls up to share interesting quotes he’s found in books.
He said he never aimed to have his name on a wall or to draw attention to himself. He just did what he wanted to do and what seemed right.
“I enjoy doing it. I never did do anything I didn’t want to do. That’s the way I’ve lived” he said.
The school board will be announcing a date for an official naming ceremony in the coming months.
– With files from Janet Trull