The Summit Country Day School honored two former heads of school in a Legacy of Leadership Celebration Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the Queen City Club downtown.
Head of School Rich Wilson led the tribute for Sister Rose Ann Fleming ’50 SNDdeN and Edward C. Tyrrell. Sister Rose Ann was the head of school at The Summit from 1967 to 1974. Tyrrell was head of school from 1974 to 2003.
“The Summit has a rich heritage of leaders who have guided the school through times of change while staying true to our mission,” Wilson said. “Sister Rose Ann Fleming and Ed Tyrrell were the forerunners of a business model that has allowed The Summit to flourish as an independent, co-educational school in an era when many Catholic schools have closed. They laid the foundation for our current success, and their ideals continue to shape our practices.”
Sister Rose Ann, who is an Athletic Academic Advisor at Xavier University, was named a Great Living Cincinnatian in February. An alumna who came to The Summit in kindergarten, she joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur after graduation from college. The Sisters assigned her to teach English and Latin at The Summit in 1960 and named her head of school seven years later. During her headship, Sister Rose Ann oversaw construction of a separate Lower School building, opened the Upper School to boys in 1972 and then transformed Williams Field for football. By the time she left to become president of Trinity College in Washington D.C., The Summit’s enrollment had more than doubled, and she had erased the school’s operating deficit.
Addressing the audience at the Legacy of Leadership event, Sister Rose Ann reflected on three aspects of The Summit’s culture that she said influenced her life: academic excellence, community service and athletic competition, focused not on winning and losing but on continuous improvement of the individual. “When I think of The Summit, I think of the culture of the school,” she said. “It’s my strong belief that the culture of the school is really responsible for the positive outcomes in its students’ lives as they graduate from The Summit. I found it to be true of my own life.”
Tyrrell, now retired in Florida, first came to The Summit in 1971 to replace James Brockhoff as headmaster of the Summit Boys School. One of Tyrrell’s first jobs was to help Sister Rose Ann transition the high school to co-education. During his tenure as head of school, character education was formalized, and the Silver Knight became the school’s mascot. The school became financially independent of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1984. Tyrrell began the Annual Fund for Excellence, and he was a key fundraiser during the school’s four capital and endowment campaigns in his tenure. The monies he raised resulted in new programs, an influx of faculty academic experts and improved facilities. Among them were the additions of Flannery Gym, Kyte Theater and the Athletic Complex as well as a major addition to the Harold C. Schott Middle School. He also planned for the Lower School which opened its doors in 2004.
“Ed led our school into the modern era and prepared us for a bright future,” Wilson said. “He developed policies and best practices that included hiring the best faculty he could find in the city, diversifying the student body, improving athletics and establishing an independent school financial model – all of which attracted top students from across the region, grew enrollment, set the school on firm financial footing and motivated everyone to pursue excellence.”
Addressing the group, Tyrrell said he thought about leadership of the school as a tribe. “We had a great school, we had a great mission, and we were going to develop people of character, wisdom and grace who were going to make the world a better place – and Lord knows we need to have lots of that today,” he said. “It took a lot of people to make that happen. My job was to muster great people together, focus on their development and get the job done.”
Now with a grandson in The Summit’s graduating class, Tyrrell said he sees the tribe is still present. “I can tell you it takes a lot of people…to build and maintain this type of an institution. The Summit is a leader. Look at the value we have and what we’re contributing to our city, our state and our country. I want to thank all of you with whom I have been blessed to work and who have helped bring this great school to where it is and to continue to move this school forward.”