PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
In the summer of 1955 Leslie Lynn Wathen, the 3rd daughter of five siblings was born to Spalding and Della. Wathen. She grew up in Fresno, California, attending Our Lady of Victory and St. Anthony's schools. Leslie graduated from San Joaquin Memorial High School in 1973. It was during her primary education experience, that she developed a love for teaching. The pursuit of her goals for higher education led her to Oregon. Leslie graduated from the University of Oregon in 1978, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She then moved to Washington to complete a one year special education teacher internship through Seattle Pacific University. Leslie lived on Bainbridge Island and taught in the North Kitsap School District.
Leslie returned to California with both Multiple Subjects and Learning Handicapped teaching credentials; soon after obtained her Resource Specialist Certificate. She taught severely emotional disabled students for one year in the Pre-Adolescent Day Treatment program in the Fresno Unified School District (FUSD). Leslie then transferred to the Madera County Dept. of Education and taught for several years, kindergarten through 8th grade level, students with learning disabilities. She used her special teaching skills in these schools: Oakhurst, Bass Lake, Coarsegold, and Raymond-Knowles Elementary.
During this time Leslie married Mark Prendergast, and together they had three children. While teaching for Madera County, Leslie gave birth to Alison, her first daughter. Alison is close to completion of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. Expecting her second child, Leslie decided to stop teaching and be a full time mother of her growing family. She proudly celebrated the recent college graduations of her two youngest children. Josiah received his Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Santa Clara, School of Law, and will be an associate partner in a leading Fresno law firm. Anna received her Masters of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of San Diego. She will be commissioned a 1st Lieutenant, medical service, in the United States Air Force; first female family member to enter military service.
Leslie’s strong interest in personal development motivated her to return to college and earn a Masters of Arts Degree in Special Education, with emphasis in Reading from Fresno Pacific University. Upon receiving her Severely Handicapped Teaching Credential, Leslie resumed her teaching career as a Resource Specialist in the Clovis Unified School District (CUSD). Leslie has 14 years of teaching experience, and remains a highly qualified educator.
Leslie’s Father was extremely proud of his service as a Lt. in the Navy near the end of WWII. He carried his Navy ID card in his wallet almost his entire life; until it broke into pieces from “old age.” His pride birthed in Leslie a deep value for our military forces and a great respect for all who have served. Upon the passing of her father, Leslie obtained her Real Estate License and joined her 4 sisters and mother in the family construction business. She was involved in many aspects of home development; customer service, home design, sales, and project completion.
Leslie remarried in 2007 to Leonard Casillas, a retired civil servant and Army National Guard Colonel. They enjoy volunteering together at the Veterans Memorial Museum (VMM) in which they manage the Donation Shop inventory and support tasks. Retirement has provided Leslie the opportunity to continue to learn; serve at her church and the museum; and to more fully explore her creative side. Leslie’s mother instilled in her at a very young age a passionate love for world history, travel and books. Like her mom, she is a world traveler and an avid reader; especially of biography and military genres. Understandably, volunteering at the Veterans Memorial Museum is a very valuable part in her life. Leslie finds working with the VMM staff and docents always to be a very interesting and enjoyable experience.