Leo B. Hart Memorial Scholarship

Leo B. Hart Memorial Scholarship

Leo B Hart (1897 – 1989) was born on January 19, 1897. Hart grew up in Vinton, Iowa, where his mother taught in a rural school and his father operated a plumbing business by horse-drawn wagon. He also served in France during World War I. Hart attended Arizona State University, and graduating with a master’s degree in education. He was offered a job in Bakersfield, taught high school there for a while, and then ran for county superintendent of schools. He was elected to his first term (he served two) in 1939, the same year that thousands of formerly successful farm families fled drought and dust storms in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and other states. It was the same year that “The Grapes of Wrath” was published. Hart is remembered as an amazing educator, and serving as the county superintendent of schools that helped many migrant children receive their education during the Dust Bowl area. During this time many migrant families moved to Kern County seeking a better life. Although the newcomers weren’t wanted in existing schools, Hart was determined to provide the migrant children with an education. In September of 1940 the Arvin Federal Emergency School was created by Hart which helped set the stage for Hart’s belief that all children deserve a quality education. Through his efforts, many of Hart’s accomplishments are still felt in Kern County’s educational systems today and many still carry on his spirit of helping children in need.