Leininger Honored for Service to City

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and educator Mike Leininger encouraged his audience to find ways to give back as he was recognized by the Noon Kiwanis Club as La Cañadan of the Year on Wednesday at Descanso Gardens’ Van de Kamp Hall.

Mike Leininger challenged the 110 people who came to lunch Wednesday, including grandsons Jeff and Johnny, to get involved in their community, citing a saying he learned as a coach at Bellflower High School: “What you do will speak so loudly,” he said, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”
Leininger’s actions since moving to La Cañada Flintridge 30 years ago this month with his family have spoken volumes. Several accounts were shared by fellow community leaders during the Noon Kiwanis Club of La Cañada’s annual La Cañadan of the Year recognition luncheon at Descanso Gardens’ Van de Kamp Hall.
For 26 years, Leininger was a member of the La Cañada Unified School District, moving up the ranks as a La Cañada High School assistant principal, principal and then as LCUSD assistant superintendent. He earned his doctorate of education from the University of La Verne during that span and was known for hosting homecoming float building sessions in his front yard.
Then, when he retired in 2013, he got to work.
Always involved, Leininger’s volunteer role has only increased. He’s been president of the Kiwanis Club, served as a board member at the Community Center of LCF, joined the LCF Tournament of Roses Committee, the LCF Chamber of Commerce, the LC Coordinating Council, St. Bede Consultative School Board and Steering Committee, the Interfaith Baccalaureate Committee — in addition to volunteering in his grandsons’ classes located all the way down in Hermosa Beach.
His wife, Nancy Leininger, said it shows that all of her husband’s work experience paid off.
“I am thankful that Mike’s [time] being the beyond-the-call-of-duty guy and versatile LCUSD employee gave him the résumé he needed to become the volunteer he has become,” she said. “You have so many friends who know who to call when they need something.”
Maureen Bond, director of the Community Center of LCF, illustrated Mike Leininger’s reliability by reenacting what a phone call with him sounds like on her end — he finds a way to help.
La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette called Leininger an invaluable resource and said she didn’t think the Kiwanis could name a finer La Cañadan to be honored. She told Leininger: “You’ve taught me more than, I think, anyone. We owe you so much and we love you so much.”
After being lauded by a series of dignitaries and political field representatives, Mike Leininger thanked the Kiwanis Club, his friends and former colleagues, and offered “big thanks” to his wife Nancy: “This award may have my name on it but it belongs to us,” he said.

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